Na­ture’s Bak­ery won’t let SHR ‘bully us’

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - SPORTS -

DAY­TONA BEACH, FLA. >> Na­ture’s Bak­ery vowed Thurs­day to fight Ste­wart-Haas Rac­ing in court, say­ing it wouldn’t be bul­lied by one of NASCAR’s top teams over a $31 mil­lion breach-of-con­tract law­suit filed in a spon­sor­ship dis­pute in­volv­ing driver Dan­ica Pa­trick.

The Reno, Ne­vada-based food com­pany, one of the small­est pri­mary spon­sors in NASCAR, sev­ered its spon­sor­ship agree­ment with SHR and Pa­trick af­ter the first year of a three-year deal. SHR re­sponded with a scathing law­suit in which it ac­cused Na­ture’s Bak­ery of hav­ing cash­flow is­sues and con­coct­ing rea­sons for pulling out.

Na­ture’s Bak­ery CEO Kelly Allin said the com­pany was “thrown off by SHR’s law­suit” and had plans to meet in Char­lotte, North Carolina, days be­fore the suit was filed.

“Con­trary to its im­age, SHR is run by big-busi­ness types that took ad­van­tage of Na­ture’s Bak­ery,” Allin said. “They now are threat­en­ing scorchedearth lit­i­ga­tion against a multi­gen­er­a­tional fam­ily com­pany. We’re ob­vi­ously not go­ing to let them bully us. We may be a small brand, but we do not think what they are do­ing is right. We look for­ward to de­fend­ing our­selves in court.”

Na­ture’s Bak­ery said it will file a de­tailed re­sponse and coun­ter­claims shortly that will “shed light on SHR’s con­duct both dur­ing the race sea­son and af­ter.”

“They can file what­ever they want. We’re con­fi­dent with our po­si­tion,” said SHR pres­i­dent Brett Frood.

One of SHR’s par­tic­u­larly nasty al­le­ga­tions was that Na­ture’s Bak­ery had re­cur­ring mold is­sues with its bars, which con­tributed to fi­nan­cial prob­lems. SHR also al­leged its own em­ploy­ees were forced to re­move moldy bars from in­ven­tory that was slated for mar­ket­ing ef­forts at races.

SHR also said Na­ture’s Bak­ery re­peat­edly asked for mod­i­fied pay­ment sched­ules and then missed pay­ments. SHR said the com­pany de­vised “a scheme to avoid fur­ther pay­ments” by claim­ing Pa­trick had been en­dors­ing com­pet­ing prod­ucts and was not us­ing her so­cial me­dia pres­ence enough to pro­mote Na­ture’s Bak­ery.

Rule changes: Penal­ties over­hauled

DAY­TONA BEACH, FLA. >> NASCAR un­veiled a re­vamped penalty sys­tem Thurs­day that could levy more pun­ish­ments on race week­ends.

Scrap­ping its six-level class, NASCAR moved to a twolevel sys­tem where penal­ties as­sessed dur­ing qual­i­fy­ing or in­spec­tions at the track will be im­me­di­ate and not han­dled later in the week. • NASCAR has set the stage lengths for races this sea­son, part of a rad­i­cal re­vamp de­signed in hopes of mak­ing ev­ery lap mat­ter.

The new for­mat opens with the Day­tona 500 on Feb. 26. The stages in NASCAR’s big­gest race are sched­uled to end on lap 60, lap 120 and lap 200.

The top 10 driv­ers at the end of Stage 1 and Stage 2 will be awarded points on a 10-through-1 scale. The third por­tion of the race will be for the over­all vic­tory, and al­though tra­di­tional point scor­ing will be ap­plied for that stage, the win will be worth 40 points.

Un­der green flag con­di­tions, pit road will be closed with two laps re­main­ing in the stage.

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