NASCAR & Auto Racing

All sides agree to a compromise in NASCAR-AT&T logo dispute

The legal dispute involving AT&T’s sponsorship of the No. 31 Chevrolets driven by Jeff Burton ended on Friday with a deal that allows AT&T to be primary sponsor on the cars owned by Richard Childress Racing through the end of the 2008 season.

“We sat down with all of the parties involved and decided that we all have significant needs,” said Dave Garver, executive director of business development and wireless sponsorships for AT&T.

“...We just believe this is what’s best for us as well as for NASCAR, for the health of the sport and for RCR.”

The settlement ends a court battle that began when AT&T filed a lawsuit over NASCAR’s denial of its right to sponsor the car, formerly sponsored by Cingular. NASCAR said that changing from Cingular to another wirelessbrand was in conflict of a grandfather clause in NASCAR’s deal with Sprint Nextel for title sponsorship of the Cup series. AT&T argued that it acquired majority interest in Cingular and changed its branding, so there was no change in the company sponsoring the car.

A federal judge issued an injunction in May allowing AT&T’s logos on Burton’s car. But last month, an appeals court overturned that issue and Burton’s car has been without sponsor decals for the past two races.

AT&T was due back in court later this month seeking a new injunction.

But the RCR team was putting the logos on the car early Friday at Richmond International Raceway, signaling an agreement had been reached.

“Our agreement with NASCAR ensured that we would be the only telecommunications sponsor beyond the two grandfathered brands," said Dean Kessel, director of Nextel Cup Series marketing for Sprint Nextel.

"Today’s agreement protects the integrity of that deal by putting a firm end date on AT&T’s sponsorship in the Nextel Cup Series.

“We are giving RCR and Jeff Burton an appropriate amount of time to transition to a new sponsor while remaining focused on winning the championship. That is the best solution for RCR, NASCAR, Sprint andracing fans.”