M&Ms Will Not Sponsor Busch For Remaining Two Races Of '11 Season
Mars and Joe Gibbs Racing Thursday night announced that M&Ms "will not sponsor Kyle Busch for the final two" NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races of '11 "but will sponsor him for the 2012 season," according to Bob Pockrass of SCENEDAILY.com. Busch, who "was benched by NASCAR for the Cup race last Sunday at Texas because of his retaliation on Ron Hornaday in the Camping World Truck Series race two days earlier, will race the final two Sprint Cup events of the season but with Interstate Batteries sponsorship." Mars Chocolate North America Chief Consumer Officer Debra Sandler said, "Mars and the M&Ms brand strongly support the partnership we have with Joe Gibbs Racing and are committed to NASCAR. Yet, Kyle’s recent actions are unacceptable and do not reflect the values of Mars." JGR Owner Joe Gibbs said, "We strongly support Mars' decision. This gives us all time to work together to foster a positive change where Kyle can continue racing in a way we can all be proud of." Pockrass noted until late Thursday night, there "were questions whether Mars would continue to sponsor Busch or even remain at JGR" (SCENEDAILY.com, 11/10). Sources said that Z-Line Designs "asked this week that Denny Hamlin replace Busch in next weekend's" Nationwide Series Ford 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Interstate was JGR's "original primary sponsor and only relinquished its role when Busch signed with the team in 2008." The company was the "primary sponsor for Busch in six Cup races this season" (AP, 11/10). Elliott Sadler, who drove from '03 to '06 "in the Cup series with M&M's as his sponsor," said, "Every sponsor I've ever dealt with in this sport is image-conscious. I will say Mars probably was the most because of the people they are tailoring to. You've got kids looking up to you because you're driving the M&M's car. That is a different set of rules than a lot of other cars.'' Sadler added, "We definitely want M&M's to be a part of the sport. They're a huge brand and a huge footprint" (ESPN.com, 11/10).
IMAGE PROBLEM? ESPN.com's Rickey Craven wrote, "Busch has an image problem. If he is to reach his full potential, only he can correct it" (ESPN.com, 11/10). ESPN’s Dale Jarrett said Busch needs to demonstrate “he has respect” for his fellow drivers and “convince these sponsors that he’s not going to put them in a difficult situation.” ESPN’s Mike Massaro added, “Ultimately, when the sponsor’s unhappy the team’s unhappy.” Jarrett: “As a driver, you’re responsible for a lot more than just getting in and driving the racecar. You have to understand the amount of people you are affecting there (at JGR)” (“NASCAR Now,” ESPN2, 11/10). ESPN.com's Ed Hinton wrote NASCAR "needs Kyle Busch. Joe Gibbs Racing needs Kyle Busch. Mars Chocolate North America needs Kyle Busch." Hinton: "Rowdy keeps you focused, keeps you angry, keeps you booing -- and booing is, after all, the most important sound, the most vital sign, in NASCAR" (ESPN.com, 11/10).