Hendrick Motorsports debuted a new partner, Day Chaser, during the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season. The canned cocktail company did not have a history in NASCAR, but it gravitated to the motorsports series due to the loyalty exhibited by the fanbase.
Day Chaser hit some select markets in 2021, but 2022 was its official launch for the general public. The early marketing featured people at the beach, on the golf course, or on the water. However, stock car racing was a sport that Day Chaser and parent company Vermont Cider circled early on in the process.
“What led us to NASCAR is the fan loyalty and engagement that the fans have with sponsors,” Bridget Blacklock, Chief Commercial Officer for Vermont Cider Company, told Heavy ahead of the Busch Light Clash. “That was really interesting to us. We’re looking, as we build the brand from the ground up, is where can we get a lot of visibility and get a lot of visibility with people we can interact with and that are engaged with sponsors back.
“So certainly NASCAR came up at the top of that list multiple times. And then once we met with Hendrick Motorsports, it just all started to come together and make sense.”
Day Chaser sits in a unique position. The beverage company is the first alcohol sponsor for Hendrick Motorsports since the 1999 season. This is when Budweiser served as the full-season primary partner of Wally Dallenbach Jr. and the No. 25 team.
The situation changed in 2000 as Budweiser joined forces with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Dale Earnhardt Inc. while Jerry Nadeau replaced Dallenbach in the No. 25 Chevrolet. This marked the end of alcohol sponsors supporting HMS, but the situation changed in 2022 when Day Chaser stepped in.
Obviously, there are some major differences between a prominent beer sponsor in Budweiser and Day Chaser. The canned cocktail company uses vodka and tequila as the base of its drinks, and it focuses on keeping the drink at 100 calories while using very few ingredients.
For example, the Day Chaser Cranberry Vodka + Soda only features vodka, real cranberry fruit juice made from concentrate, natural flavors, and carbonated water.
Bowman Remains at the Forefront of the Partnership
The beverage company is an associate partner for the HMS teams, so it has logos on the pit boxes, crew suits, and Bowman’s firesuit. Day Chaser is also the official drink used for celebrations in Victory Lane.
While Day Chaser has a presence throughout the entire organization, the company is most regularly associated with Bowman. The driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet has a regular presence on their social media channels, and he has taken multiple promotional photos with the various flavors.
Part of this relationship with Bowman is due to availability. Though a larger factor is the Arizona native’s personality and how he carries himself on a daily basis.
“I think this personality fits really well with what we do with the brand,” Blacklock said. “And, I mean, we’re alcohol, we don’t want to take ourselves too seriously. We want to be able to have fun. I think he has the right personality for that. And he has little punchiness — and as he says, spiciness — to him.
“So I think the partnership works really well with him. It really encompasses who the brand is. I mean, why NASCAR when there’s all of these other things that we’re involved with too? But when you narrow it down and we are looking at different drivers, his lifestyle and what he does, whether he’s driving or in his own personal time, really aligned with the brand.”
Day Chaser & HMS Have Growth Opportunities Ahead of Them
The first year with HMS was a learning experience for Blacklock and Day Chaser. They kicked off the season by experiencing the Daytona 500, and they learned the intricacies of NASCAR while interacting with numerous fans and industry members.
There were multiple things that the people behind Day Chaser learned. One of the biggest was that the pit crews and the drivers appreciated the small ingredient list. This is key considering how much they focus on health and nutrition.
The other big thing the company learned is that there is power in a logo. NASCAR fans love picking up the latest merch for their favorite driver or team, especially if there is a new logo that they don’t already have in the collection.
“The Daytona 500, first race, the product wasn’t really even in the market yet,” Blacklock said. “And I’m walking through the infield with a Day Chaser logo on my shirt. And then these two females come running up to me from across the way and were just like, ‘You’re with Day Chaser.’ And I was like, ‘Yes.’ It was just the logo.
“The name was on the back of the shirt. The name was little on the back. And so that stuck in my mind from the very first race, instantly, how people already knew the logo without the name even with it. And it’s because of that loyalty and how much they pay attention to the sponsors that are participating with their teams.”
Now, Day Chaser is ready for the 2023 season and the opportunities to continue growing alongside HMS. The company will continue to support Hendrick Motorsports as the four-car organization moves closer to 300 Cup Series wins and attempts to put all four drivers back into the playoffs.