Justin Allgaier May Be The Biggest Name Affected By Sponsorship Crisis

Charles AllenCorrespondent ISeptember 21, 2010

BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 14:  Justin Allgaier, driver of the #12 Verizon Wireless Dodge, lsigns autographs for fans during qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series CARFAX 250 at Michigan International Speedway on August 14, 2010 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

Recently, there have been many high profile teams and drivers worried about the possibilities that a shaky economy and decreasing viewers may bring. No longer are the small, independent operations the only ones in realistic danger.

Kyle Busch, arguably the biggest star in NASCAR, has stated that without sponsorship dollars, he would be forced to close up his Camping World Truck Series team next year.

Jeff Gordon's deal with DuPont, the longest current relationship in the sport, will be scaled back next year, forcing one of the greats in history to seek new allegiances.

Tony Stewart is in the same situation, and there are many more viable teams in this predicament.

Perhaps the most telling story is when drivers from mega teams are told that they can look for new employment, and maybe the worst case is Penske Racing.

Sam Hornish Jr., a three-time Indycar Series champion, has known for a while that his sponsor, Mobil 1, would not be returning due to a conflict with incoming Shell-Pennzoil.

He is hopeful that something can be worked out and he can continue his moderate progression in the major leagues of stock car racing. While Hornish's situation is certainly unfortunate, he is not the biggest loss.

Justin Allgaier, 2008 ARCA Series champion and 2010 Nationwide Series race winner, is also in the same position. Allgaier has proven himself to be very capable behind the wheel, currently fourth in points and the highest Nationwide only driver in the rankings.

But his ability behind the wheel is not the only reason why Allgaier is poised to become a major star in the sport.

Very well spoken, Allgaier has the look of a 12 year old, in spite of being twice that age. He is comfortable in front of a camera and is always aware to mention his sponsor, Verizon Wireless. He is the clean-cut young man that a company should be proud to have represent them.

As most NASCAR fans are aware, when Sprint became the title sponsor of the biggest racing series, they signed a no-compete clause.

This disqualified any wireless provider from entering into the series as a sponsor. The merger between Cingular and AT&T led to a battle in which Jeff Burton was forced to find a new sponsor.

Unfortunately, Penske Racing finds themselves in a similar place. Verizon has partially funded the Dodge driven by Brad Keselowski in the Cup Series, without the ability to put one tiny decal on the car.

They have been the Primary sponsor for Allgaier in his Nationwide car for the past two seasons.

With no possibility of ever bringing their drivers into the Sprint Cup Series in cars with their logos, Verizon has decided to look elsewhere for marketing, leaving one of the sport's up and comers in the cold.

Nobody can blame them for this decision. It just makes the current state of NASCAR seem that much worse.

There have been rumors of possible suitors for Allgaier, and it's very possible that he may find himself in an even better position in the future.

It just speaks volumes for the way the sport has been mismanaged for the past nine years. There should be a chance, with teams losing sponsors left and right, for one of the largest companies around to be able to put their advertising dollars into the sport.

Hopefully, NASCAR will think about this when the contracts are up, and outstanding drivers like Justin Allgaier can become the future of this great sport.

Hopefully, it's not too late.