The Associated Press reports numerous sources as saying that the energy drink giant is planning to pull the plug on its NASCAR Sprint Cup program at the end of the 2011 season.
According to the AP report, multiple people familiar with the decision say a team official traveled to Michigan International Speedway over the weekend and told industry leaders on Sunday of the impending move. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement has not been made to team employees.
"Red Bull Racing Team is currently seeking outside investors as we evaluate next steps in the Sprint Cup Series," said a statement from the team. "We are not at liberty to comment on details while negotiations are under way."
Austrian-based Red Bull, which also owns the reigning World Champion team in Formula 1 as well as a "junior F1 team in Toro Rosso, has struggled as an owner/sponsor in NASCAR since forming a team in 2007. Although the AP says no reason for the departure has been given, it notes that the energy drink markets to the 18-to-34 age group – a demographic with which NASCAR has lost ground in TV ratings in recent years.
The team currently has Brian Vickers and Kasey Kahne in its cars, although Kahne is only "on loan" from Hendrick Motorsports and was only ever scheduled to race for the team this year.