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November 28, 2014

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NASCAR can still give you wings

By the end of this season, the Red Bull energy drink company plans to sell its stake in its two-car Sprint Cup team. Since the team was formed in 2007, it has accomplished only one Cup victory in the car driven by Brian Vickers.

This isn’t a great track record, especially for a corporation that’s used to getting top-notch performance for its investment. Red Bull’s Formula One organization won last year’s championship and the team’s driver, Sebastian Vettel, is the current points leader. He has won five races this season.

Maybe Red Bull is throwing in the towel because it expected to have accomplished more in the Cup Series by this point. Maybe the company, which spent over $600 million since 2004 on its Formula One operation, thinks its energy drink gets better exposure by being associated with an international racing series.

But other reports have speculated that there’s another reason for Red Bull’s decision to jump ship. The energy drink company pours a lot of its financial resources into marketing its product to the 18-to-34 age group. This is the coveted demographic that product makers, including NASCAR, so desperately want.

But if Red Bull is worried about reaching that age group via NASCAR, it should take a look at the recent numbers.

According to FOX, as of June of this year, male viewership for Sprint Cup racing in the 18-to-34 age group is up over 20 percent. Although the sport still has ground to recover when compared to the 2009 season, there is definitely an upward trend to the numbers.

In addition, SPEED’s coverage of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race had a rating increase in the 18-to-34 age group of 58 percent.

These figures coincide with an overall increase in viewership in 2011. In the first 13 races of the season, FOX’s coverage has resulted in a rating increase of over 9 percent. (That’s 8.6 million viewers per race).

We don’t know the full story on Red Bull’s reasons for leaving the Cup Series. And although a majority of NASCAR fans are older than the 18-to-34 age group, if Red Bull wants to reach the young, male audience, the moving billboards of stock car racing can still garner attention.

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