Is Izod-Penske pact a conflict for IndyCar Series?

I sat across from a source Monday silently pondering a question.

“Isn’t Izod’s sponsorship of Penske Racing a conflict of Interest?” the source asked me. “Aren’t they the title sponsor of the [IndyCar] Series too? I mean, isn’t that an obvious conflict of interest?

The source’s business is sought by some sports properties, but it’s not directly a sports business. Sometimes when you’re immersed daily in sports, you overlook the obvious.

I had given the conflict of interest issue a quick thought, but this type of crossover sponsorship seems to be somewhat commonplace, at least in the world of motorsports.

My source was dogged in his line of questioning. “If a title sponsor forking over million of dollars to the series is so directly affiliated with a team, wouldn’t the series have a vested interest in seeing that team and sponsor do well?”

Well, I suppose he has a point. But, I answered, sports—and racing in particular—are so desperate for sponsorship money, they’re not about to turn away a cash paying sponsor on any level. And the IndyCar Series could hardly afford to lose Penske Racing of all teams.

The room went silent for a second, before my source, who has no skin in the open-wheel game, quipped “Sounds like a conflict to me.”

So, what do you think? Does Izod’s growing relationships within IndyCar circles, and with Penske Racing in particular, pose a conflict of interest?

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