NASCAR team Stewart-Haas Racing yesterday said it is in "close communication" with its 17 official partners and sponsors, and most are "refraining from commenting beyond offering condolences to the family of Kevin Ward Jr.," according to Max Willens of AD AGE. A Bad Boy Buggies spokesperson said that the brand still "is committed" to driver Tony Stewart. Animal rescue firm Code 3 Associates also said it will "remain firmly in support" of the race team. SHR Exec VP Brett Frood said of sponsors, "While they are all thinking about the family and friends of Kevin Ward Jr., they also care about the emotional well-being of Tony, and they are very supportive of him during this difficult time" (ADAGE.com, 8/11). Marketing firm Leverage Agency Founder & CEO Ben Sturner said that it is "likely only a matter of time" before sponsors "start jumping ship, even if Stewart is never criminally prosecuted." Sturner said that while "expressions of loyalty from Stewart’s impressive array of blue-chip sponsors must be comforting ... many would ultimately leave." But Sturner said he thinks they will "wait a bit." He said "blue-chip sponsors are going to have real issues." Sturner even "expects some sponsors to invoke 'morals clauses' likely contained in their endorsement agreements" (N.Y. POST, 8/12).
L.A. TIMES, 8/12).
TIME TO STAY OFF THE DIRT? In N.Y., Viv Bernstein notes the accident on Saturday night was the "third serious sprint car crash for Stewart in about a year." Although the three sprint car accidents were "very different, they raise the question of whether Stewart should be racing in that series, if his presence affects other drivers who may become more aggressive to try to beat the Nascar star in their midst." Bernstein: "After Saturday night, it would not be surprising if he stepped away, at least for a while, and reassessed his involvement" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/12).