Darlington: Bill Lester announces endorsement

Bill Lester, Honey Nut Cheerios announce endorsement SCOTT HAYES (General Mills Motorsports Manager) General Mills has been involved in NASCAR racing since 1997. We are thrilled to be announcing our first foray into the Craftsman Truck series...

Bill Lester, Honey Nut Cheerios announce endorsement

SCOTT HAYES (General Mills Motorsports Manager)

General Mills has been involved in NASCAR racing since 1997. We are thrilled to be announcing our first foray into the Craftsman Truck series and announce our endorsement relationship with our Honey Nuts Cheerios brand with Bill Lester, driver of the No. 8 Dodge Ram Dodge. Bill will bring a lot to our program. We are currently in the Winston Cup series with Richard Petty and John Andretti and those guys. Having somebody like Bill as a part of our family of brands is a perfect fit. He's a high-energy guy, and Honey Nut Cheerios is a high-energy brand. We're thrilled to have him be a part of our program. We've got several different things in the works. We hope to have Bill on some packages of Honey Nut Cheerios and also do some things with some of our customers throughout the season.

"It's an endorsement relationship with Bill. It is through the year. This weekend Bobby Hamilton Racing has been kind enough to allow us to run the Honey Nut Cheerios logo on Bill's truck. It's a one-race deal there. It's a personal services relationship for the rest of the year.

"I would say we're 90 percent there on plans (to have Lester on a cereal box. I would hope we would announce that at a little bit later date, but that is the plan. He will be the first Craftsman Truck driver on one of our packages."

BILL LESTER (No. 8 Dodge Motorsports Dodge Ram)

"I'm equally as excited to make this announcement. This is the culmination of about a three-year relationship that got off the ground when Scott and I met at Daytona back in 2000 when I was talking to some at-risk youth in victory circle about staying off drugs and staying in school. Scott put a business card in my hand and said stay in touch with me. You never know what might develop. I'm really excited to know we've put this thing to bed. We're going to have hopefully a long, fruitful relationship. I'm happy and honored to represent the Honey Nut Cheerios brand and General Mills and hoping to get them in the winners circle real soon.

"I just got done addressing it (race issue) about a half-hour ago with a TV station. I guess pretty much at every event I go to I speak to somebody about the topic. I'm just hoping it will be sooner rather than later when I don't have to address it any more and this sport becomes more culturally diverse, but I don't want to get on that tangent. I really want to focus on the fact that this is really a dream come true. Dodge has put a lot of effort and money into this program, and now we're able to get the support of a major company such as General Mills. We hope this will open the floodgates for more people to come on board and take advantage of this program that Bobby Hamilton Racing and Dodge has put together for me.

"It's quote-unquote affordable if you want to get into NASCAR. I was surprised and very happy to see that Nelly got involved. I was hoping to see him here this week, but I heard there was a death in the family or something of that nature. But I want to think that more African-owned businesses and companies and interests will become involved in NASCAR. It's a terrific sport. Lot of exposure, lot of excitement, lot of room for opportunities for people of all colors, ethnic backgrounds. Maybe I'm one of the early catalysts for change, but I'm hoping it's not going to end with me.

"I definitely want to get to the top of the ladder. I hope to think that maybe we'll have a very successful year this year. I'm looking to at least win a race or two and finish in the top 10 in the drivers championship and hope to think I will prove I deserve the opportunity to reach on up and get to the top. We'll see how it goes. We've got to concentrate on turning what was a disappointment in the first race around and get a good finish here at Darlington.

"Way cool, are you kidding? (Being on a cereal box). I've talked to some of my friends back in Atlanta and in California and they're really excited about it. A lot of my friends have children, and they can't wait to get their hands on some of it.

"There's only so many things I have control over. My age is definitely not one of them. When I talk to my wife sometimes about the things I've gone through in racing and my career, I say the only thing I wish that might have been different is that I would have gotten this opportunity about 10 years ago. It's not as if I wasn't out there looking for it. I did my first professional race in 1989, and I've been banging on the doors of corporate America since about 1987 when I stepped out of SCCA amateur road racing. But I guess the timing wasn't right, and there's only so much control I have over things, but I hope to think I've taken advantage of the best opportunity that was available to me. All I can do is continue to do the best I can with it.

"There's no question about that, but it's all a matter of exposure. A lot of ethnic youth aren't exposed to NASCAR stock car racing and it's not necessarily accessible to them even if they are exposed to it. The key is to get the kids at a young age, to get them excited about it. I hope to think that with the success we're going to have and with the Honey Nut Cheerios brand that they can go in the store and see these packages and see that a black race car driver on the box is such that it might generate the interest and we'll get some of those drivers who will think this is something I can aspire to."

BOBBY HAMILTON (Owner Bobby Hamilton Racing and Driver of the No. 4 Square D Dodge Ram)

"It's just sort of a feature in my cap. I had to OK it, and as I OK'd it I had to OK it with Dodge. I think with me doing that, it's helped my hand. Basically all it does for me is put another major company on one of our Dodges and gets more exposure for me. Even though he'll be on a cereal box, and I'm pretty sure he will be, the truck will be on there, too. We still need sponsors, but we'll be OK. We've got good people working on it, and we've got some good things working now.

"I have a brand new truck with a brand new motor for this race. It's never been started until we got here. How many times have you done that in Cup? It's just a mental thing. Dodge is two for two in truck races at Darlington, so we'll see if we can keep that run going. This has been a pretty good track for me, and it's been a real good track for Ted Musgrave. Chad Chaffin, Robert Pressley and never underestimate Brendan Caughan and they're all in Dodges. Bill was fourth quickest here last year in Happy Hour. Jason Leffler is overdue for a win. I think Dodge has a real good shot at going three for three."

-dodge motorsports-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers John Andretti , Bobby Hamilton , Jason Leffler , Robert Pressley , Ted Musgrave , Richard Petty , Bill Lester , Chad Chaffin