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Assessing the NASCAR Playoffs Field

Postseason Racers Collectively Generate $12M in Post Value During 2022 Regular Season

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Social Media
Sponsorship Valuation
September 8, 2022
September 8, 2022
 min read

From February through August, the NASCAR Cup Series traversed the country staging 26 regular season races covering thousands of miles on familiar tracks in Daytona, Darlington, and beyond. All the while, fearless drivers maneuvered around tight turns and through small windows to improve their positions, earn checkered flags, and secure opportunities to celebrate with their teams and partners en route to the 2022 NASCAR Playoffs. Ultimately, 16 competitors qualified for the postseason, which began last Sunday with the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Among them were each of the past four NASCAR champions, with 2020 winner Chase Elliott leading the way. Because NASCAR is such a sponsor-driven sport, we used MVP’s social platform to examine how each driver and his team performed on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter throughout the regular season – from February 1 through August 29 — to determine which brands received the greatest exposure and value generation. We also assessed the league’s official accounts to highlight its promotional prowess online. Overall, the sixteen drivers who reached the 10-race sprint to the finish generated $11.99M in post value, with a two-time champion creating significant separation from the field.

Kyle Busch Serves as Social Pace Car

Although Kyle Busch finished the NASCAR regular season 11th in the Cup Series standings, he was atop our social rankings by a wide margin. Driving the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Busch won only one race this year – the Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway in April – but it was enough to qualify him for the postseason. And despite only two top-10 finishes during the final two months of the regular season, his passionate fan base was nevertheless happy to be along for the ride as Busch chronicled his exploits on social media. Among postseason drivers, Busch’s 1.91 million followers rank second behind only Kevin Harvick’s 2.04 million. Such an audience helped him generate $2.66M worth of post value during the regular season as a result of 3.08 million engagements and 121.2 million impressions. All three figures ranked first among his playoff peers, and his post value total eclipsed all others by at least 1.93x. Daniel Suárez of Trackhouse Racing received the second-highest post value total at $1.38M, while four others – Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, and Denny Hamlin – also surpassed the $1M mark.

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M&M’s, Ally Among Top Driver Sponsors

In a sport where fans cannot see athletes’ faces during the action, many competitors become inextricably linked to their main sponsors. Consistent paint schemes and liveries at the front of the pack every week help audiences identify their favorite drivers at speeds approaching 200 miles per hour. Therefore, coupling Kyle Busch with M&M’s, Alex Bowman with Ally, Chase Elliott with NAPA, and other drivers with their main sponsors becomes the natural way to view a race. As a means of emphasizing these connections and highlighting productive partnerships, NASCAR drivers are wont to prominently feature their sponsors’ branding on social posts throughout the season. We used our AI-powered detection software to analyze all brands appearing in images and text mentions across the playoff participants’ social channels this year and found the top brand earner from any single driver – excluding racing team accounts – was M&M’s, which received $152,085 worth of brand value from 74 posts across Kyle Busch’s platforms. The posts collectively earned 580,098 engagements and created 20.46 million impressions. Prior to the season, M&M Mars announced it will not renew its partnership with Busch in 2023, but his social reach should be enticing for whichever company is next in line. Ranking second was Ally’s partnership with Alex Bowman, as the financial company received $142,663 in brand value from 206 posts across Bowman’s channels. NAPA Auto Parts rounded out the top three, with 2020 NASCAR champion Chase Elliott generating $123,104 in brand value for the retailer. Notably, Joey Logano shared the brand spotlight extraordinarily, with four of his partners among the top 12 brand earners from driver entities during the regular season. Logano’s main sponsor, Pennzoil, received $102,712 in brand value – good for fourth on our list – while partners Coca-Cola, Shell, and Planet Fitness ranked seventh, 11th, and 12th, respectively.

NASCAR Social Promotes Goodyear Revels

NASCAR is a consistent promotion machine, documenting its league through various lenses showcasing races, drivers, partners, and high-speed excitement while maintaining fan interest throughout a ten-month calendar. During the 2022 regular season, NASCAR shared 6,396 posts across its owned channels, generating $13.55M in total post value from 16.72 million engagements and 655.4 million impressions. Interactions with NASCAR accounts peaked during the season-opening Daytona 500 weekend in February, when the league received 2.39 million engagements from February 17-21. At a more granular level, NASCAR’s content served to spotlight its many sponsors – as well as team sponsors – from one race week to the next. Through August, the top brand value earner from NASCAR accounts was Goodyear, which received $398,052 in total brand value after being featured in 787 posts. Content featuring the tire manufacturer collectively earned 4.1 million engagements and created 183.5 million impressions, with both figures setting the bar among brands. However, despite 2.33x more engagements on posts highlighting Goodyear, it barely beat Hendrick Automotive Group at the brand value finish line. Hendrick finished the regular season with $392,922 worth of brand value to earn second in our rankings, followed by Toyota and Xfinity with $327,832 and $316,646, respectively. NAPA Auto Parts rounded out the top five, earning just shy of $300K in brand value.

Pedal to the Metal Toward Phoenix

After Erik Jones played spoiler by winning Sunday’s Cook Out Southern 500, only two races remain before the postseason field of 16 whittles down to 12 remaining drivers vying for a NASCAR championship, making this weekend’s race in Kansas City and a night race in Bristol on September 17 critical for those currently in the bottom four of the standings. The field will pare to eight next month before only four drivers remain in contention going into the finale in Phoenix on November 6. Throughout the postseason, MVP will continue to monitor the drivers’ social activity and what it means for brands as the racing level reaches a new gear.

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