|ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) (10/27/2008)— Eastman Kodak Co. is ending its 22-year sponsorship in NASCAR and putting more sports marketing dollars into professional golf.|
|The photography pioneer, betting its future on electronic imaging, said Monday the realignment fits better with a new effort to highlight its brand digitally, such as on PGA Tour scoreboards.|
|Kodak also wants to engage more customers overseas since 60 percent of its sales are outside the United States.|
|Kodak said it is also ending a four-year sponsorship of Penske Racing at year-end.|
|Since signing on with NASCAR in 1986, Kodak-sponsored cars have won the Daytona 500 four times - with Ryan Newman's car in 2008, Sterling Marlin's in 1994 and 1995 and Ernie Irvan's in 1991.|
|"Just as we have transformed our company, we are transforming our marketing," said Betty Noonan, Kodak's vice president of corporate marketing and branding. "We want to express our deepest thanks to our friends at NASCAR and Penske Racing for their partnership and support. We remain big fans."|
MMM and its new driver, 33-year-old Rick Wilson, get a strong start to the 1986 season with a seventh-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500 and an eighth-place finish at Talladega in May.
In June, MMM unloads what would become the familiar yellow #4 Oldsmobile with a sponsorship from Kodak. It signals the beginning of the Kodak/MMM partnership that lasts for 18 years – one of the longest sponsorships in the NNCS garage behind STP’s backing of “The King” Richard Petty.
After qualifying 10th and finishing eighth at Michigan, Wilson and MMM record four more top-10 qualifying efforts and three additional top-20 finishes during the remainder of the season.
MMM earns its first pole position at Bristol International Raceway (now Bristol Motor Speedway), the team’s home track in Bristol, Tenn. Wilson puts the Kodak machine in the top qualifying spot with a speed of 117.552 mph.
In July, the Kodak Oldsmobile stays in the spotlight all day in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Wilson leads the field for 19 laps before finishing second by a mere three feet to Bill Elliott. The finish is a career-best for Wilson and MMM.
The team’s first full season on the tour is highlighted by two top-fives and five top-10s for a 21st place finish in the final point standings and more than $200,000 in earnings.
In one of the most pivotal moves in team history, MMM hires Ernie Irvan to drive the No. 4 entry. Irvan recorded a top-10 finish in his first NNCS start in a Dale Earnhardt-owned car at Richmond International Raceway in 1987.
The MMM-Irvan partnership is the opportunity for both team and driver to realize the potential many believe they have.
In his first race with the team, Irvan drives the Kodak Oldsmobile from the 30th starting spot to a third-place finish at Atlanta International Raceway (now Atlanta Motor Speedway).
Less than a month later, Irvan earns his first career pole position where the MMM team won its first career pole - Bristol Motor Speedway.
In a move that emphasizes the team’s growing status in the sport, MMM makes the decision to switch to Chevrolet, believing the change will boost manufacturer support.
MMM and Irvan follow up on their pole position in the spring race at Bristol by winning the night race at the famed half-mile oval, the first victory for both team and driver. In just his 17th start with the team, Irvan and MMM celebrate in front of a hometown crowd of nearly 60,000.
The 1990 season is highlighted by one win, six top-fives, 13 top-10s and three poles. The No. 4 team also records more than $530,000 in earnings and finishes ninth in the championship point standings.
MMM catapults into the spotlight by winning not only the first race of the year, but the biggest. Irvan leads the field for 29 laps to win the “Great American Race,” the Daytona 500.
After being penalized at the start of the race, Irvan charges from the last starting position to win the Budweiser at the Glen in Watkins Glen, N.Y. The win gives the team a diverse portfolio with its first three wins on a half-mile track (Bristol Motor Speedway), a 2.5-mile track (Daytona International Speedway) and a 2.45-mile road course.
By season’s end, MMM and Irvan have recorded two victories, 11 top-fives and 19 top-10s for a fifth-place spot in the season’s final standings. The team has also secured more than $1 million in earnings and a premier place on the stage at the season-ending awards banquet at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.
MMM and Irvan capture three wins in an eight-week period in June and July.
In June, MMM wins at Sears Point International Raceway (now Infineon Raceway), the circuit’s other road course in Sonoma, Calif. In July, MMM picks up its second win at Daytona in the Pepsi 400, where it nearly won its first race four years earlier. Three weeks later, the team visits victory lane at Talladega Superspeedway.
The 1992 season features three poles, nine top-fives and 11 top-10s for an 11th-place finish in the point standings.
MMM and Irvan record a pair of top-five finishes in the season’s first four races, and the No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet is back in victory lane at Talladega in May, giving the team back-to-back wins on NASCAR’s largest superspeedway. One month later, Irvan and MMM win the pole for the June event at Dover International Speedway.
The team’s dominance on superspeedways continues when it wins the pole in July for the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
By the time the curtain closes on the 1993 season, MMM has recorded one win, seven top-fives, eight top-10s and two poles.
Before the 1994 season, MMM announces Sterling Marlin as its new driver. Marlin, the son of former NASCAR driver Coo Coo Marlin, had won the Rookie of the Year title in NASCAR’s top series in 1983. After 11 years and 278 races, Marlin had yet to win.
Marlin’s winless drought comes to an end in his first race with MMM as the team wins its second Daytona 500 and Marlin earns his first career win in 279 starts.
MMM and Marlin follow up on their Daytona 500 victory with a second-place effort the following week at North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham, N.C.
The impressive start results in a season total of five top-fives, 11 top-10s, one pole, and a 14th-place finish in the final point standings for more than $1.1 million in earnings.
MMM and Marlin kick off the season by winning the sport’s most prestigious race, the Daytona 500. It’s the third Daytona 500 win for MMM in five years and makes Marlin the third driver in NASCAR history to win the race two years in a row.
Four races later, MMM visits the winner’s circle at the series’ oldest track, Darlington Raceway in Darlington, S.C. In July, the team picks up its third win of the year by winning from the pole at Talladega Superspeedway.
At the end of the 31-race season, the team has earned a career-best third place finish in the point standings after claiming three wins, nine top-fives, 22 top-10s and one pole for more than $2.2 million in earnings.
In its quest to become the first team in NASCAR history to win the “Great American Race” three years in a row, MMM settles for a 40th-place finish after experiencing engine trouble in the season opening Daytona 500.
In the season’s ninth race, Marlin leads 48 laps to win the Winston Select 500 at Talladega. Six races later, Marlin qualifies second after leading 88 of 117 laps to win the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway in July.
At season’s end, Marlin and the No. 4 Morgan-McClure Kodak Chevrolet are eighth in the final point standings after posting five top-fives and 10 top-10s.
MMM kicks off NASCAR’s 50th anniversary year by naming Nashville, Tenn., native and short-track ace Bobby Hamilton as the driver of the No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet.
Hamilton, a NNCS winner in the 1996 and 1997 seasons with Petty Enterprises, begins the year with a respectable 12th-place finish at Daytona and ninth-place run at Rockingham.
In his eighth race with the team, Hamilton puts the Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet on the pole and wins in dominating fashion at Martinsville, Va., after leading 378 of 500 laps.
MMM rounds out the 1998 season with two more top-fives and six more top-10s, including four top-15 finishes in the final five races. In addition, the team claims almost $2.1 million in earnings and finishes 10th in the season point standings.
NASCAR veterans Kevin Lepage and former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Mike Skinner share driving duties for MMM, racking up 11 top-20 finishes and a sixth-place run at Rockingham in November 2002.
MMM celebrates its 20th Anniversary and switches to the Pontiac Grand Prix after a 12-year relationship with Chevrolet.
For the first time in the team’s history, MMM enters a second car for the August race at Watkins Glen International. P.J. Jones is behind the wheel of the No. 4 car, and Johnny Miller pilots the No. 04 Kodak Easy Share Pontiac Grand Prix.
MMM records seven top-20 finishes on the season, highlighted by an 11th-place finish at Darlington in March.
MMM begins the season by switching manufacturers and NNC veteran Jimmy Spencer records nine top-25 finishes in the No. 4 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
Eric McClure, son of MMM co-owner Jerry McClure, drives the team’s second car to a 26th-place finish in his NNC debut at Talladega Superspeedway.
By the end of the year, MMM totals more than $2.1 million in earnings.
In 2004, Gaughan moved up to the NEXTEL Cup, driving the No. 77 Eastman Kodak Dodge for Penske-Jasper Racing. He finished second in the Rookie of the Year standings, and 28th in the final points standings. He finished the season with 4 Top 10's including a career best top five finish Talladega Superspeedway, where he had been in contention to win before Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and a number of other drivers shuffled Gaughan back to fourth place. He did come close to a win at the Glen where he led a total of 7 laps in the final 25 laps. He then spun out with 19 laps to go and then broke a transmission, finishing 34th.
He was replaced at the end of the season by Travis Kvapil.
In 2005, Kvapil took over the Penske's #77 Kodak Dodge full-time, replacing Brendan Gaughan. Kvapil scored his first ever Nextel Cup Series top-10 at Brisol Motor Speedway when he finished seventh during the Food City 500. He picked up another top-10 at Phoenix International Raceway during the Checker Auto Parts 500. The two top-10 finishes pushed Kvapil to finish 33rd in the point standings during his first season in the series. When the season ended, the Penske Racing No. 77 team temporarily disbanded when Kodak pulled out of the sponsorship deal.