Whether you love her or hate her, there's no denying the marketing prowess of NASCAR queen Danica Patrick. With over a million Twitter followers, Patrick has enough of a following to bring any company, GoDaddy included, from a small market share business to a major world player that, according to ESPN, 80 percent of people recognize.
She clearly also has enough to bring a major 36-race partner to NASCAR and keep it there. But with the departure of GoDaddy as a NASCAR sponsor, some wonder what 2016 will bring for motor sports.
While Danica will no longer drive the green GoDaddy Chevrolet, NASCAR was also sucker-punched by the web hosting company with the decision to stop funneling its millions of dollars into the sport, effective when GoDaddy's contract with Stewart-Haas Racing ends this season. Since 2010, NASCAR has relied on GoDaddy to sponsor 36-plus races each year, a number that now leaves a big question mark for 2016.
While there's speculation that Patrick's less-than-stellar performance is responsible for the demise of the NASCAR-GoDaddy relationship, others question whether NASCAR has the marketing chops to make the huge investment profitable for GoDaddy.
GoDaddy has responded by stating the company's shifting focus towards servicing small businesses and a global market -- a marketing plan that simply has no room for NASCAR in it.
"We recognize in the United States we are not really in a brand-building phase anymore," GoDaddy CMO Phil Bienert told USA Today Sports.
"At the end of the day, the business decision to be made based on the data is we're no longer in that brand-growth stage in the United States where NASCAR has been such a great vehicle for us."
NASCAR seems to be in the same position as IndyCar when GoDaddy pulled out in 2013, referencing the high cost of sponsorship.
"At this stage, we need a range of marketing assets that reach a more globally-diverse set of customers," Beinert told CNN Money of its decision to cut ties with NASCAR.
NASCAR Chairman Brian France speculated on SiriusXM Radio's NASCAR channel that GoDaddy's recent IPO on the NASDAQ might be a clue.
"We're always disappointed when, for one reason or another, a company changes course. That happens. Recently [GoDaddy] just went from being private to a publicly traded company and I'm sure that changes a lot of their budgets and strategy and that is just how that goes."
But with 7.6 million people watching any given NASCAR race, it seems likely a new sponsor or two will step in and fill the void left by GoDaddy's departure.
[Image credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images Sport]