What’s In a Name? NASCAR (And Literally Everyone Else) Will Stop Using the Term “Premier Series” Next Season

Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

By Summer Bedgood, Managing Editor

Heading into 2016, we were already well aware that Sprint would be dropping its sponsorship of the Cup Series and a new title sponsor would have to take their place.

And it was a long wait. Multiple businesses were rumored to be next in line, with companies such as Samsung, Coca-Cola, and even Dunkin Donuts working their way into the conversation.

As you almost undoubtedly know by now, Monster Energy has stepped up, not only as the new title sponsor, but ushered in a slightly different name for the series: The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

It doesn’t matter how many times I repeat the name in my head. I will almost certainly at some point during the season say “The Monster Energy NASCAR Sprint Cup Series” out loud, mashing the two together in some inglorious representation of the old and the new.

As is always the case, however, over time the transition will become easier. Hearing someone say “NASCAR Sprint Cup Series” will one day soon sound dated, similar to when you might hear someone refer to the “NASCAR Nextel Cup Series” today.

However, Monster Energy and NASCAR didn’t announce the new sponsor until a few weeks after the season ended and waited even longer to officially announce the name. During the interim, there was some discussion as to whether or not Monster Energy would leave the word “Cup” in the name of the series.

Because of this, there wasn’t really a “right” way to refer to the series. The season was over so “Sprint Cup Series” wasn’t applicable anymore, but the correct series moniker hadn’t been announced yet.

As a result, many in the industry — and NASCAR – began referring to the Cup Series as the “premier series” as we waited ever patiently for an announcement as to who the sponsor would be and what they would call the series.

As does nearly everything anymore, this stirred up plenty of debate, especially amongst fans. If there is anything our fan base struggles with, it’s change, and losing the word “Cup” – a word that had been part of the series since 1971 with Winston – was perhaps too much to handle.

Of course Monster Energy has since decided to keep the word “Cup” in the series name, narrowly avoiding chaos and panic in the streets everywhere.

Since the announcement, NASCAR has apparently started to entertain the idea of dropping the term “premier series” entirely when referring to the Cup Series.

While it’s unlikely the term will be used widely, there is still something to be said about having a “generic” reference to a series when a name otherwise doesn’t exist. While Monster Energy has signed a multi-year deal to be part of the sport, one has to wonder if there will come a day when they too decide to move on. Wouldn’t it just be easier to revert back to calling it the “premier” series, at least temporarily, when that day comes?

And what about when you have to explain what exactly the “Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series” is to your uninformed friends, coworkers and family who don’t know the Cup Series from the IndyCar Series, let alone the Cup Series from the XFINITY Series? The “premier” series sums that up rather quickly, does it not?

At the end of the day, it doesn’t truly matter. Arguing over semantics is almost as exciting as watching a fresh coat of paint dry on the walls of Darlington. Truly, the important thing here is that there is even a series name at all, a designation that we seemed to wait a little too long for.

All the same, the fact that NASCAR is discussing a second-reference series name means it matters at least somewhat. Realistically, NASCAR isn’t going to refer to the series by anything other than its official name, sponsor included. Media types likely won’t either and fans will continue to refer to it as the “Cup Series”.

Whether NASCAR decides to officially phase it out or not, the term “premier series” likely won’t return again until or unless there is a need to fill in the blanks where a title sponsor would otherwise exist. That won’t happen again for a long time with Monster Energy still part of the picture.


  1. Your mother

    December 31, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    Sprint is still the sponsor for another two and a half hours. This premier nonsense was stupid and I hope I don’t have to hear it again anytime soon.

  2. mgj

    January 3, 2017 at 9:03 am

    What truly irritates me is when the “revisionist historians” refer to Richard Petty as having won “Seven Sprint Cup Championships”.
    Richard Petty never ran a single Sprint Cup race, let alone won a Sprint Cup championship.

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