NASCAR, Sponsors, Race Teams Could Soon Feel Ripple Effects Of Tony Stewart Incident
NASCAR driver Tony Stewart missed yesterday's Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen Int'l following the incident Saturday night involving Kevin Ward Jr., and the "ripple effects could be enormous across myriad racing series, sponsors and teams," according to Nate Ryan of USA TODAY. It "wasn't clear how much input -- if any -- sponsors had in Stewart's decision to sit out the race, but it's certain" Stewart-Haas Racing consulted them. Though Stewart is a "pitchman extraordinaire whose blue-collar persona offers appeal, Ward's death is the latest of several on- and off-track incidents that have raised questions about why he always seems caught in a maelstrom of controversy" (USA TODAY, 8/11). SI.com's Michael McCann noted Stewart has "lucrative endorsement deals with such blue chip companies as Coca-Cola, Chevrolet and Mobil 1," which "likely contain 'morals clauses.'” Stewart, like Tiger Woods following his sex scandal in '09, could "face a loss of endorsement deals because of the controversy, settling aside whether it leads to any legal consequences" (SI.com, 8/10). CNBC's Brian Sullivan said, "The question is going to be no matter what the outcome is of this investigation … whether Mobil One, Bass Pro Shops, GoDaddy, come back to him." Sullivan noted even if Stewart is "totally cleared in this" and is "exonerated of any criminal charges," questions remain whether sponsors are "going to pay money to put your name on his hood" ("Morning Joe," MSNBC, 8/11).
RICK'S ROLL: Hendrick Motorsports on Friday announced that AARP and the AARP Foundation's Drive to End Hunger Program will return in '15 as a sponsor of the No. 24 Sprint Cup car driven by Jeff Gordon. The deal is for primary sponsorship in the Daytona 500 and 12 other races, down from 22 total this season, and associate sponsorship in all other races (HMS). Meanwhile, Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Friday said that he "hoped to continue representing the National Guard" despite the organization announcing Wednesday that it will pull its $32M motorsports sponsorship. Earnhardt said, "We don't really have any details on anything, and that's between the Guard and HMS to sort all that out. I've really enjoyed working with them over the last seven years and I hope to be able to continue to represent them. It's been a huge honor" (USATODAY.com, 8/8).
PERSONAL CARE: Kimberly-Clark on Friday "extended its sponsorship" of JTG Daugherty Racing's No. 47 Sprint Cup car through '17. The company will promote its Scott, Viva, Kleenex, Cottonelle and Huggies brands on the Chevy car driven by A.J. Allmendinger (AP, 8/8).