SONOMA, Calif. (June 14, 2016) - In 1992, Ernie Irvan overcame an early-race penalty to pass 41 cars en route to his first victory at then-Sears Point Raceway. That same year, Save Mart Supermarkets took the green flag on what would become the raceway's most enduring commercial sponsorship.

At the upcoming Toyota/Save Mart 350, June 24-26, Save Mart Supermarkets and Sonoma Raceway will celebrate 25 years of sponsorship at the annual wine country NASCAR event. Save Mart Supermarkets' status as either the event title or co-title sponsor in Sonoma is one of the longest running in all of NASCAR Cup racing.

Save Mart served as title sponsor of the NASCAR Cup event from 1992-1997. It has combined with partners as co-title sponsor of the event since 1998. The event has been known as the Toyota/Save Mart 350 since 2007.

"Our partnership with the Sonoma Raceway has become part of Save Mart's culture. Save Mart, Lucky and FoodMaxx stores celebrate the Toyota/Save Mart 350 in the weeks leading up to the race, building a palpable momentum among our employees and in the communities we serve," explains Nicole Pesco, co-president and chief strategy and branding officer. "What a great legacy this partnership has built."      

Based in the heart of the Central Valley, Save Mart Supermarkets is committed to sourcing a wide variety of local products ensuring that 'fresh comes first' for neighborhoods throughout California and Northern Nevada. The company employs nearly 16,000 team members and operates 205 traditional and price impact stores under the banners of Save Mart, Lucky, FoodMaxx, S-Mart Foods, and MaxxValue Foods. The company also operates Smart Refrigerated Transport and is a voting partner in Super Store Industries (SSI), which owns and operates a distribution center in Lathrop, Mid Valley Dairy in Fairfield and Sunnyside Farms ice cream plant in Turlock.

Save Mart and Lucky stores have become the destination for NASCAR fans looking to purchase the lowest-price ticket for race day. In 2015, the stores also became the exclusive location to get free kids' tickets, with the purchase an adult ticket.

Serving as a hub for race fans has become an important part of the Save Mart store philosophy. The company has partnered with some of the country's most recognizable brands, including Kellogg's, Keebler, Nabisco, General Mills and PepsiCo, to make sure fans are stocked up for their day at the track. In addition, Save Mart annually hosts more than 1,000 guests in its hospitality tent overlooking Turn 11.

Bob Piccinini, Save Mart's Chairman and CEO who passed away in 2015, was the original champion behind the race sponsorship and his company's involvement with the track.  Last year, the raceway unveiled a granite monument at the corner of the Turn 11 Lawn, which has been renamed the Piccinini Plaza, in honor of the Piccinini family's legacy at Sonoma Raceway.

"This partnership has evolved and grown in so many ways over the years, but it still boils down to both companies delivering consistent value to NASCAR fans, grocery shoppers and to the outstanding team of Save Mart, Lucky and FoodMaxx employees," said Steve Page, Sonoma Raceway president and general manager.

"Big Red," the popular 13-foot tall, motorized shopping cart that was custom built for the late Bob Piccinini, has become one of the signature display pieces at the raceway, and, at last year's Toyota/Save Mart 350, Save Mart debuted the Save Mart/Lucky Breaking Zone in the main paddock. This dynamic fan display is the hub of social media activity during NASCAR weekend, including a place for fans to charge their phones, take a picture in the photo booth and share race-day memories. Fans can also enjoy Q&As with drivers and NASCAR personalities, music and more.