Naming rights sponsor at Phoenix Raceway out 11 months before track hosts NASCAR's championship races

ISM Connect's sponsorship of Phoenix Raceway lasted just two seasons. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

The ISM Raceway era at Phoenix was a brief one.

ISM Connect will no longer be the naming rights sponsor at Phoenix Raceway. The company signed a 10-year agreement to be the track’s primary sponsor ahead of the 2018 season. But the track and company “mutually agreed” to end that sponsorship just 11 months before Phoenix hosts NASCAR’s championship weekend for the first time on Nov. 6-8.

“Phoenix Raceway and ISM Connect have mutually agreed to restructure their relationship and will discontinue its naming rights partnership,” the track said in a statement. “We look forward to transitioning back to Phoenix Raceway, a brand that has built a strong affinity across the racing community since our opening in 1964. The repositioning of Phoenix Raceway aligns with NASCAR’s integrated sponsorship strategy and supports ISM Connect’s efforts to shift their focus from brand awareness to delivering their next generation technology at NASCAR facilities. We thank ISM Connect for their partnership as we look forward to a historic season for our track, culminating with the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway.”

ISM Connect’s departure leaves Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, as the only track on the Cup Series schedule that has a corporate naming rights sponsor.

Phoenix was the major beneficiary of NASCAR’s schedule tweaking ahead of the 2020 season. The track has traditionally been the host of the penultimate weekend on the NASCAR calendar and has moved to the site of NASCAR’s three winner-take-all finales in the Trucks, Xfinity and Cup Series thanks to a multi-million dollar renovation.

Homestead-Miami Speedway had been the site of the last weekend of the NASCAR season since 2002. But Phoenix will take over that role after a $178 million remodel of the track was completed in 2019. And Phoenix looks set to be the site of NASCAR’s final race weekend for quite some time.

“I think our hope would be to stay there for a little while,” NASCAR vice president Steve O’Donnell said in March when the 2020 schedule was revealed. “I can't say how long. I think with any venue, you want to see it have a chance and grow a little bit, see how that works. We'll certainly take a look at it as we look at 2021 and beyond, see what's on the table in terms of venues.

“But this wasn't a decision we said, ‘Hey, let's go there for a year and rotate it.’ Our intent is to stay for a few years and see how we net out.”

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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