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NASCAR team sponsors come and go, but 2018 will mark the 25th consecutive season in which Northeastern Supply will provide associate level support for a NASCAR Xfinity Series driver and race team.
The leading, regional plumbing, heating, air conditioning, HVAC, hardware and water systems distributor based in Baltimore, recently renewed its sponsorship with driver Justin Allgaier and the #7 race team out of the JR Motorsports stable. 2018 will mark Northeastern’s 5th consecutive year supporting a JRM race team starting with Regan Smith in 2014.
Smith is one of 17 drivers who have carried the Northeastern banner since the 1993 campaign and those pilots, mostly Xfinity Series standouts, have put Northeastern Supply in Victory Lane 15 times. In addition, drivers such as Jason Keller, the late Jason Leffler, Smith, Elliott Sadler and Allgaier have all challenged for Series championships driving for Northeastern and have finished in the top five in driver points in 15 of those 25 Busch, Nationwide and Xfinity Series campaigns.
“We have always sought to align our company with top drivers and competitive race teams so that our customers and employees had a driver and race team to follow and that would regularly be among the top runners in every race. It has paid off for us in many ways,” said Steve Cook, Northeastern’s president and CEO.
“Having a driver who is in the mix for a win nearly every week and is battling for a championship impresses our folks when they get to meet them at one of our race day hospitality events. They know that our company is serious with what we do racing-wise, and it gives the customers things that are comparable to what our company does for and with them business-wise. We believe that it registers positively,” Cook added.
When Northeastern first began its NASCAR involvement, it had five sales branches in two states – Maryland and Delaware. Today, 33 Northeastern sales branches grace five Middle Atlantic states and the racing program has impacted every one of them. That’s the result of the Northeastern racing program being customer-oriented with nearly every racing promotion created and executed by and for the customer.
“Without customer support of this racing program, it would be gone quickly,” Cook exclaimed. “I once said that once we see a waning in customer support of our NASCAR program that would be the time to spend our money elsewhere. But the program has had a positive affect through the years and seems to grow in excitement and following every year so we stay with it. I can’t believe that we have done this for 25 straight years though.”
Northeastern began its racing involvement in 1993 with a one-race sponsorship in connection with a Moen Faucets promotion. Long-time NASCAR Busch Series driver and former champion Tommy Ellis was the driver, and Cook confesses that he knew nothing about the sport back then.
“We just agreed to do it to see what it would produce for us, but I liked what I saw and its potential and thought bigger things,” Cook explained.
The bigger things Cook referred to was in the form of major associate support of veteran driver and Busch Series team owner Phil Parsons in 1995 which marked Northeastern’s first sponsorship of a Busch Series team and driver for a full season. This followed the 1994 season with sponsorship directed at local racer Brian Donley for the races at Dover, Deleware. The race car looked good, but speed became an issue in qualifying first and then in the race with Northeastern customers and employees hoping that Donley’s car would remain on the track long enough before being black flagged.
The program just grew from there with Northeastern remaining with Parsons for the 1996 season. Following a season in 1997 that featured some turmoil with the race team and rookie driver Jimmy Foster that ended a full season sponsorship prematurely, Northeastern spread its support to other teams and drivers that season that included Daytona 500 winner Sterling Marlin and Kevin Lepage at Phoenix Racing.
From there, the sponsorship program became far more stable and drivers such as Keller, Hank Parker, Jr., Kenny and Mike Wallace, J.J. Yeley, Leffler, veteran Monster Energy NASCAR Sprint Cup veteran Kasey Kahne and Allgaier supported Northeastern’s efforts. This brought the program to the 2014 season and Northeastern’s first with JR Motorsports. Smith, Sadler and Allgaier have been the JRM drivers that have piloted the JRM Chevrolets on which the Northeastern Supply logo appeared and these drivers were all in the thick of the championship battle down to the final race each season. More is expected from Allgaier in 2018 in what will hopefully be a commemorative campaign.
“Justin has been in the Final Four for two straight seasons, and Elliott Sadler was in the same position when we sponsored him and his race team,” Cooked added. “But Justin won two races last season and was in position to win at least two more, and with his race team staying together for 2018, JRM’s #7 Chevy should be stout. Maybe winning one of the two races at Dover (Northeastern’s home track and where the company entertains customers) will be one race Justin can win so we can finally get our people into Victory Lane. That would certainly be a nice 25th anniversary present.”