Checker & Lester

Checkers could sponsor Lester or another team in 2007: If #23-Bill Lester lands a Nextel Cup ride in the future – he has only two starts, both this year, but drives for Bill Davis Racing, which has two open seats for its Toyota program in 2007 – he may already have met his sponsor: Tampa-based Checkers/Rally’s. Lester, who has a partial sponsorship deal with the official drive-through of NASCAR for his BDR Truck series program, is well-liked within the company. This season he became just the sixth African-American to qualify for a race in NASCAR’s top series. “He helped us secure the deal (to become a NASCAR sponsor in 2005),” said Checkers vice president of marketing Rich Turer. “Bill participated in our final meeting with our franchise advisory council two years ago at Homestead-Miami (Speedway). Bill was our invited guest and NASCAR brought him in specifically to talk about this match. We have 800 restaurants, and some of them are very urban and are more minority-driven in the customer base, and we had some franchisees that were concerned about our investment against that. Bill was able to come in and talk to them and have dinner and spent a lot of time. He’s great. We’re not a huge sponsor of Bill – we sponsor a few races for him a year – but he remains near and dear to my heart because he really helped make secure some of the important franchise votes we needed to get the deal done.” Turer said the company is in discussions with two teams about a full-season Nextel Cup sponsorship for 2007. Turer did not name teams, but noted the company’s right to use race-winners’ images in its advertising reduces the pressure to sign a high-profile driver.(St Petersburg Times)(7-4-2006) News source: St Petersburg Times