RICHMOND, VA - SEPTEMBER 09: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford, Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #17 Fastenal Ford, pose for a photo during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway on September 9, 2017 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

NASCAR's No. 1 sponsor has given the sport reason to panic


The hits just keep coming for NASCAR.

It's no secret the sport has been struggling financially, but there was still optimist that Monster Energy would opt in for two more years as the primary sponsor through 2020. The deadline for Monster's decision is December, but they asked for an extension until after the first of the year.

While that wasn't exactly a surprise, Monster has actually asked for a second extension that would delay their decision until the spring, according to SB Nation. NASCAR granted both requests, but there warning signs are flashing that they might be searching for a new sponsor for the second time in three years.

Related: Industry sources think NASCAR could suffer a potentially devastating sponsorship loss


SB Nation's Jordan Bianchi also reported that NASCAR officials have started looking for potential replacements should Monster leave after the 2018 season. That wouldn't be an ideal situation for NASCAR to say the least -- especially since there would be more growing pains with a new sponsor.

"Although Monster has its share of critics who feel more could be done related to television buys and at-track activation, the reality is the company has brought a much needed fresh approach that has nudged NASCAR out of its comfort zone," Bianchi wrote. "And if Monster were to opt out, it places NASCAR in a precarious position for the second time in three years where the search for an entitlement sponsor becomes a pervasive cloud hanging over the season that overshadows what's happening on the track."

Monster has some things it needs to improve upon if it continues as a primary sponsor, but it's important for NASCAR to figure out a way to ensure they return for 2019 and 2020. NASCAR needs continuity. It needs stability. Cycling through sponsors is the last thing the sport needs financially, and the partnership with Monster can improve given time.

Growing pains are expected for any new sponsor, and it would benefit NASCAR in the long haul if it had stability with sponsorship.