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