IndyCar driver Marcus Ericsson lands hot chocolate company sponsor

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A hot chocolate company led by Hollywood stuntman and occasional racer Stanton Barrett has signed as primary sponsor for Swedish driver Marcus Ericsson at Chip Ganassi Racing.

This is the first entry into IndyCar for Huski Chocolate, a company headquartered in Stockholm that already does business in Formula One with McLaren and with the English soccer club Millwall.

Huski Chocolate is primarily located in ski resorts and touts its brand as using all-natural ingredients combined with real cocoa, cocoa butter and secret spices. The company expanded into North America two years ago and launched a chocolate milk in Europe last year.

The pairing of
a Swedish company with a Swedish driver seems like a natural fit, but
the connection is actually between Barrett and team owner Chip Ganassi.
Barrett is the son of former stuntman Stan Barrett and the godson of the
late Paul Newman.

He became interested in racing through his
father and Newman, which led to a friendship with Ganassi. Although
Barrett still dabbles in racing — the Xfinity Series race at Watkins
Glen last year is among the 249 career NASCAR starts Barrett has made
since 1992 — his focus is on his other entrepreneurial ventures and his
stunt work. Barrett also ran four IndyCar races in 2009.

“Motorsports
is a really great platform to get a brand out there and develop a loyal
customer base so IndyCar is a great fit because it is picking up
aggressively and they are in good markets and has a positive global
platform,” Barrett said.

Barrett said he’s known Ganassi at least
30 years, and flew with him late last season to discuss potential
partnerships. Ganassi was in the process of shutting down his two-car
sports car team, but he reallocated the personnel to create a third
IndyCar entry to avoid heavy layoffs.

The talks were preliminary
and Ganassi was not sure who the driver would be, but Barrett was
adamant he wanted to be tied to a top-tier team. Ganassi teams have won
19 championships and more than 220 races, including four Indianapolis
500s, a Daytona 500, a Brickyard 400, eight Rolex 24 At Daytonas, the 12
Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“Chip had the choice
in driver, he is pretty savvy in who he picks and I think it is a really
great fit that Marcus was available,” Barrett said. “For us, it just
fell in line that he is a Swedish driver for a Swedish brand, and we
will be able to market him quite well. But this was more about the
program and being in IndyCar and the partners we could find.”

Ericsson
spent five years in F1 before moving to IndyCar last season to drive
for Sam Schmidt. When McLaren came on as a partner with Schmidt for this
season, the team replaced the two-driver lineup and Ericsson’s contract
was not renewed. He had one podium finish in 16 races.

He joins a Ganassi team that includes five-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon and Felix Rosenqvist, a fellow Swede.

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Author: Jenna Fryer, Associated Press


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