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Sports

McMurray's Chevy gets local sponsor

Joe Napsha
| Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kennametal Inc., a local maker of industrial tooling products, will be the primary sponsor of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing's No. 1 car in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday at Martinsville, Va., the manufacturer said Wednesday.

Unity-based Kennametal's WIDIA Products Group is the main sponsor for the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet driven by Jamie McMurray at the Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway, Kennametal and Earnhardt Ganassi said.

It's not the first time Kennametal has been the primary sponsor for a NASCAR car, an Earnhardt Ganassi spokesman said. The racing team uses much of its machinery at its shop near Charlotte, N.C.

Chip Ganassi, owner of the Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, the umbrella group for Earnhardt Ganassi and Target Ganassi Racing, is a Fox Chapel native and Duquesne University graduate. His teams in 2010 won 19 races across the three touring series, including the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400.

Kennametal did not say how much the sponsorship cost for the Martinsville race. Kennametal also has been a secondary sponsor of race cars.

"Kennametal Inc. has a long-standing relationship with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing where we provide expertise in materials, tooling, training and solutions for their machining operations. In exchange, from time to time we are afforded marketing opportunities such as this," spokeswoman Christina Reitano said.

High-performance machine shops and the latest in tooling innovations are necessary in keeping race teams competitive, so the partnership between WIDIA and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing was a natural fit, Kennametal said.

WIDIA Products is involved in milling, turning, reaming, grooving and other precision metalworking applications from a single source, Kennametal said. The company said it envisioned creating a portfolio of products and services that would make WIDIA different from the Kennametal brand and could be sold through a separate channel.

"With WIDIA, we expect to capture a growing segment of customers buying product through indirect channels, which it is estimated will make up a future $10 billion market by the year 2015," Kennametal said.

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