Ever since Xfinity took over the title sponsorship of Nascar’s second-tier division in 2015, the cable television, internet and phone provider has boosted its activation using a throwback feel.
In four races each season, four Xfinity Series cars will have red on their windshield banner, rather than black. Their front and rear spoilers will be painted in red instead of black, too. That means they’re ready to compete for the $100,000 bonus in the Dash 4 Cash.
“Our involvement with the Dash 4 Cash series began with our partnership with NASCAR in 2015,” Matt Lederer, Comcast’s vice president of brand partnerships and activation, said. “The Dash 4 Cash races have continued to provide a fun and exciting competition to the series where ‘Names are Made,’ while also allowing us to directly impact NASCAR communities around the country.”
The Dash 4 Cash program highlights the performance of drivers in Nascar’s version of Triple-A, designed to eventually move drivers up to the Nascar Cup Series.
Each of the four Dash 4 Cash races offers new opportunities for four drivers to be in the spotlight for that particular weekend. The results are based on the previous Dash 4 Cash race’s performance (aside from the first, which is set in a Dash 4 Cash qualifier race), and the four drivers who finish the highest earn a spot in the next round. The program isn’t just an on-track incentive, either.
“Xfinity has donated more than $200,000 during NASCAR’s Dash 4 Cash to help close the digital divide, working with nonprofits, including Code VA, Boys and Girls Club of America, Green Beret Project, Amigos for Kids, Connecting Henry, etc. to make internet connectivity more accessible for low-income families and individuals,” Lederer said.
This year’s Dash 4 Cash was dominated by JR Motorsports, owned by Nascar legend Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Noah Gragson claimed the $100,000 check in the opening race at Martinsville Speedway, followed by another $100,000 at Talladega Superspeedway. Then, he did the same at Darlington Raceway, even though he originally failed post-race inspection and was disqualified. But his disqualification was overturned after an appeals panel looked at the incident four days later, and the No. 9 team took back the bonus from Kaulig Racing. Finally, Josh Berry took the $100,000 check at Dover International Speedway, showing the rising star’s potential in a high pressure situation.
“The Dash 4 Cash race created added competition within the Xfinity Series which is always exciting for the drivers,” Lederer said. “The drivers also appreciate the philanthropic tie that Xfinity has placed on the Dash 4 Cash races.
“The impact directly affects the surrounding market, and the drivers see first-hand the positive impact taking place through virtual or in-person meet and greets with the organizations. They are visiting the locations that are being impacted and simply helping us shine a light on those organizations and the good work that they’re doing in the community.”
The Dash 4 Cash replicates the legendary Winston Million, a program run from 1985 through 1997, which allowed drivers in four marquee races TO compete for a $1 million prize. While it was rebranded to Winston No-Bull 5 from 1998 through 2002, the program’s popularity helped boost the sport when NASCAR was at its peak in popularity. It not only added an extra incentive for drivers, but it was quite an image to see Bill Elliott (1985) and Jeff Gordon (1997) hoist $1 million checks.
Thanks to the Winston Million’s success, Elliott was coined “Million Dollar Bill” for winning three of the four major races. When it was rebranded in 1998, the contest expanded to five events, with one fan paired with each driver per event. In 25 races, that contest was won 13 times.
But this is where Xfinity’s idea comes in. The Winston No-Bull 5 had five drivers per race, and the top finishing drivers in a No-Bull race qualified for the next one. And that’s what we see now with the Dash 4 Cash.
Xfinity is one of Comcast’s subsidiaries, alongside NBCUniversal and DreamWorks Animation. The firm jumped on board to be the title sponsor of the series after Nationwide Insurance held the rights from 2008 to 2014.
When Xfinity took over, the Dash 4 Cash became the perfect opportunity to highlight some of the series regulars at a time when Cup Series regulars were still dominating weekly. Eventually, a rule was made to limit the number of Cup competitors in the field, forcing them to choose only five Xfinity Series races they could compete in before the playoffs began.
“The Dash 4 Cash program has been a key part of our involvement in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, allowing us to celebrate performance on the track, while offering the opportunity to make a positive, lasting impact in communities around the country,” Lederer said. “We have seen tremendous growth among brand affinity and brand consideration from NASCAR fans over the past several years.”
At Dover, as part of the Dash 4 Cash program, Comcast opened a brand-new Lift Zone in the Dover community. Created in partnership with the Green Beret Project, the new Lift Zone provides a safe space for students to access the internet for free so they can participate in distance learning and do their schoolwork. Students at the center will also receive laptops to assist in closing the homework gap and digital divide.
“We’re proud to support military veterans who are making a difference in their communities,” Rebecca Gray, executive director of military and veteran affairs at Comcast, said. “Through this Lift Zone at the Green Beret Project, young people will be able to access education, job training, and other critical resources through the internet.”
Comcast’s contract to be the title sponsor of the Xfinity Series runs through 2024.