The 2017 NASCAR season will be Target’s (NYSE:TGT) final lap with the sport.
Target, the primary sponsor for Cup driver Kyle Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet, announced on Friday that it will leave NASCAR at the end of this season after 16 years with Chip Ganassi Racing. The retailer says it will focus its sports marketing dollars on soccer.
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Since his debut in 2013, the 24-year-old Larson has emerged as one of the brightest young stars in NASCAR and has two wins and nine top-10 finishes this season.
His success wasn't enough to keep Target interested in racing. The Minneapolis-based retail giant left Ganassi and IndyCar at the end of last season following a 27-year run.
"As we looked to evolve our sports marketing program, soccer provided Target with a unique opportunity to reach our guests in new places, and at all levels of the sport," Target said in a statement.
Ganassi thanked Target for its support of his auto racing teams for 28 years. While many NASCAR teams have run into sponsorship woes over the last few seasons, Larson could be one of the exceptions and might not have a major problem landing a primary sponsor for 2018 and beyond.
"Kyle Larson is a once-in-a-generation talent. He and the No. 42 Chevrolet will still be on the track for a long time, the only difference is that they will have different colors," Ganassi said.
Target and Ganassi partnered for 11 championships and four Indianapolis 500 victories in IndyCar.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.