CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Target will leave IndyCar at the end of this season after 27 years with Chip Ganassi Racing that included 11 championships and four Indianapolis 500 victories.The exit comes as Target is examining all of its marketing platforms under new chairman Brian Cornell. Target is also the primary sponsor of Kyle Larson in NASCARs top Sprint Cup Series and will return to his car in 2017.Targets relationship with Ganassi is one of the longest in any racing series, and the retail giant was a key player in helping Ganassi build his organization. Target not only sponsored Ganassis first car as a team owner, it eventually became a partner as the Ganassi team grew to one of the top two players in open wheel racing.In discussing the decision to leave IndyCar, senior vice president Scott Nygaard rattled off a list of highlights from Targets run: Jimmy Vasser winning Ganassis first championship, Alex Zanardi adding another two, Juan Pablo Montoya winning Ganassis first Indianapolis 500 and domination over the last decade by Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon.It was a really difficult decision that we made -- weve been with Chip Ganassi Racing for 27 years and we are ridiculously proud of the success, Nygaard said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. But the Target brand is about being fresh and new, so we felt like this was the time to make the difficult decision and expand our sports marketing platform.About the NASCAR sponsorship, Nygaard said only that Target is excited for the 2017 season with Larson. Targets contract with Ganassi runs through next year.Chip Ganassi raved about his partnership with Target while noting he understood the company made a business decision after nearly three full decades together in IndyCar.Its the greatest sponsor in racing, ever, Ganassi said. Theyve been nothing but good to me. They developed me personally and professionally. Ive developed lifelong friends and relationships. I understand things change and people have different marketing efforts, and the way they want to stamp their name on things.But its one of the longest running sponsors in racing and they delivered for me and the team, and the team delivered for them.Target walks away from an enormous investment it made in IndyCar and aligning itself with Ganassi drivers as its brand ambassadors. That includes Dixon, who has been sponsored by Target for 15 years and is one of the greatest open wheel drivers in history. Ganassi said Dixon is not a tough sell at all to sponsors, and he expected to announce a replacement on the Target car within the next two months.Dixon is a four-time IndyCar champion and his 39 career victories include the 2008 Indianapolis 500.I cant thank Target enough for their partnership on and off the track over the years, Dixon said. They have been with the IndyCar team for an amazing 27 years, which is unheard of in professional sports, and on the car Ive driven for the past 15 seasons. I have nothing but great memories and much thanks for Target being great partners for so long.Nygaard praised Dixon as a longtime Target ambassador.He is a true class act, a gentleman on and off the track, Nygaard said of the New Zealand driver. Hes always stood tall for the values of Target and the Target brand. Hes done more than we could ever ask for.Nygaard did not reveal if Target will replace its IndyCar sponsorship with another platform, only saying the company is going through what that evolution of our sports marketing will be in the future. Air Max Uptempo 97 University Blue
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. PETERSBURG, Fla. BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Rasmus Ristolainen has just two goals this season. Both have been game-winners for the Buffalo Sabres.The defenseman scored 42 seconds into overtime to give the Sabres a 3-2 comeback victory over the New York Islanders on Friday night.I love to play overtime, said Ristolainen, who also scored in the extra period in Buffalos 4-3 victory over Edmonton on Dec. 6.Johan Larsson and Matt Moulson scored in regulation, and Ristolainen had his team-leading 19th assist to help the Sabres win their second straight game. Robin Lehner made 33 saves.We battled at the end and we found a way to win, Ristolainen said. We never give up and were having fun and we trust each other.Ryan Strome and Alan Quine scored for New York, and Jean-Francois Berube made 34 saves in his first start of the season.The Islanders have lost four in a row. They have had a lead or been tied entering the third period of each game.We play a good 40 minutes and the third period we kind of seem flat, Strome said. Its kind of been the downfall of our team this year, our third periods and finding ways to win.Ristolainen scored the winner on an odd-man rush, receiving a pass from Kyle Okposo in the slot and sending a wrist shot over Berubes glove.Ristolainen is the fourth Sabres defenseman to score two overtime winners in his career.Its good to get points from guys back there, and hes got a lot of poise, Okposo said. He makes plays and he creates offense, and you need that. Hes our No. 1 D-man for a reason.Okposo, the Buffalo points leader, was playing against his former team for the first time.It was strange, to be honest with you, Okposo said. So many times you play with those guys. I know exactly what theyre going to do. It was an odd game, an odd feeling.Moulson tied it at 2 for Buffalo on a power play 3:19 into the third period. Berube could not control the rebound from Evander Kanes long shot, and Moulsons backhand bounced in off the skate of Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey.Thats kind of how things have been going for us lately, Price said. Its frustrating. Were playing well, cant seem to get the bounces in thhe third and overtime.ddddddddddddIslanders coach Jack Capuano was pleased with his teams effort on the second night of a back-to-back, but said taking two penalties in the third period killed New Yorks momentum.Its frustrating to me that the guys worked this hard and they cant get the win, Capuano said. I was just hoping we could stay disciplined in the third period, and we didnt.The Islanders showed little fatigue from playing in Chicago on Thursday night, generating several early scoring chances against a Sabres team that was off for two days.New York had a 16-7 advantage in shots on goal in the first period and took a 1-0 on Stromes straightaway wrist shot with 6:52 remaining.The Sabres showed more urgency in the second and tied it 2:32 into the period when Larsson re-directed Rasmus Ristolainens shot from the point past Berube.Quine scored on a power play to put the Islanders back in front 2-1 at 6:39 of the second period. Shane Prince slid a pass across the crease to Quine for the one-timer.Both teams stars were shaken up during the game.Concussion spotters pulled Jack Eichel from the game after he was shoved head-first into the boars by New Yorks Johnny Boychuck late in the third period. Eichel took part in the ensuing power play before going to the dressing room. He returned before the end of the third period.Islanders captain John Tavares also left briefly in the second period after getting hit in the leg but was able to return.Game notes Sabres D Zach Bogosian (knee) sat out his 20th straight game. Bogosian and D Tyler Fedun (upper body) both skated Friday morning and one of them will enter the lineup on Buffalos upcoming two-game road trip, coach Dan Bylsma said. Fedun has missed five games. . Islanders F Casey Cizikas (upper body) did not play after getting injured Thursday night. ... Ristolainen has a point in five straight games, the longest streak of his career.UP NEXT:Islanders: Host Ottawa on Sunday night.Sabres: At Carolina on Saturday night. Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys
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