What was once a sponsorship boon in NASCAR appears set to disappear.

   When NASCAR lifted its long-standing ban on hard liquor sponsors beginning with the 2005 season, it produced an influx of several lucrative deals from Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and Crown Royal, among others.

   On Tuesday, Diageo, the parent company of Crown Royal, announced it was ending its sponsorship relationships with NASCAR and Roush Fenway Racing's No. 17 team driven by Matt Kenseth following the 2011 season.

   Crown Royal is the last remaining hard liquor sponsor in the Sprint Cup Series following the infusion of new sponsors six years ago.

   "We have developed strong relationships with the people at both organizations - they have not only been fantastic business partners, but have also become our friends. We thank them for working with us throughout the years to showcase the importance of our social responsibility initiatives," said Yvonne Briese, vice president of marketing for Diageo.

   "We look forward to a strong finish to the 2011 season and like the many fans we’ve gained along the way, we’ll never stop rooting for the No. 17 car on its way to Victory Lane."

   Prior to the 2005 season, NASCAR teams were allowed to advertise beer and malt beverages such as Smirnoff Ice but not hard liquor. The ban was in place in part because of an agreement then among major television networks to turn down hard-liquor commercials.