Ruiz Foods, Inc. attributes the first year of a two-year partnership with Ryan Newman’s Stewart-Haas Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team to driving a double-digital increase in sales for its Tornados rolled snack product.

That success has prompted the company to expand the tie for 2011 with an associate sponsorship of Tony Stewart’s Sprint Cup entry on behalf of its El Monterey frozen food brand.

Tornados will again title Newman’s car for five races and cosponsor the vehicle for the remainder of the season. The brand last year also served as an associate sponsor of Stewart’s car.

Privately-held Ruiz partnered with Stewart-Haas Racing to build exposure for Tornados, its first non-Mexican food product. The company, which rolled out Tornados in 2004 as a hot grilled food item sold through convenience store chains, has expanded the line with a frozen food offering at c-stores and grocery store chains.

“As the popularity of Tornados continued to grow, we started looking for a big idea that would take the brand to the next level,” said Bryce Ruiz, the company’s president and CEO.

The brand carries the tagline A Whirlwind of Flavor and comes in six flavors including cheesy pepper jack, cheesy pepperoni, southwest chicken and ranchero beef & cheese. The company plans to roll out additional flavors this year, Ruiz said.

As it did last year, Ruiz will promote its NASCAR involvement through an integrated marketing campaign that includes national TV ads, show car appearances at retail accounts and on-pack and in-store promotions dangling a trip to a race, a Newman meet-and-greet and other perks.

The company also will activate the tie through its Facebook page as well as an extensive sampling campaign at NASCAR races, auto shows, college football games, state fairs and music festivals.

In addition to the increase in sales for the snack food brand, Ruiz also was pleased that Newman won one of the races in which Tornados was title sponsor of the car–April's Subway Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix International Raceway.

“Phoenix was the icing on the cake,” Ruiz said.

The company last year sponsored Newman in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Fontana, Calif.’s Auto Club Speedway on behalf of the El Monterey brand. The track is located roughly 250 miles from Dinuba, Calif., the location of Ruiz’s corporate headquarters.