NASCAR Cup: Stewart-Haas Racing sues Nature’s Bakery
Danica Patrick (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team, Stewart-Haas Racing, filed a breach of contract suit against Nature’s Bakery on Friday in North Carolina Superior Court. The race team has a deal with Nature’s Bakery for the snack food company to serve as a primary sponsor on the No. 10 team of driver Danica Patrick. The suit was first reported by The Associated Press
SHR is seeking $31.7 million in damages, plus interest. According to the suit, Nature’s Bakery is supposed to pay $30.4 million in base fees for two more years of sponsorship, plus $1 million in other fees.
The sponsorship deal between Stewart-Haas Racing and Nature’s Bakery was a multi-year deal that was announced in 2015 and began with the 2016 season. Nature’s Bakery sent a letter to SHR last month, requesting termination of its contract.
SHR released the following statement Friday:
“Nature’s Bakery is in material breach of its contract with Stewart-Haas Racing. It is an unfortunate situation, as the team has delivered on all aspects of its contract and was prepared to do so again in 2017. Ultimately, this is a situation that will be resolved in a court of law.
“Stewart-Haas Racing remains focused on its preparation for the 2017 NASCAR season where it will again field four entries in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series while also introducing a full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series team. The litigation with Nature’s Bakery will not impact the organization’s on-track efforts.”
SHR claims that it questioned Nature’s Bakery’s ability to pay for such sponsorship when the Nature’s Bakery expressed interest in 2015, but the race team received repeated assurances of the company’s ability to pay.
Stewart-Haas Racing also claims that, soon after the sponsorship contract was signed, it was notified of Nature’s Bakery cash-flow problems and the snack food company requested a modification of its contract with the race team. SHR responded by altering Nature’s Bakery’s payment schedule. Nature’s Bakery requested another contract modification in 2016, and SHR, again, obliged.
According to Stewart-Haas Racing’s suit, Nature’s Bakery received two races of free primary sponsorship with its logo was featured as primary sponsor on both Patrick’s No. 10 and SHR co-owner Tony Stewart’s No. 14. Also SHR claims that it helped Nature’s bakery avoid track fees normally paid by sponsors.
SHR also claims that Nature’s Bakery has tried to avoid payment by falsely claiming Patrick endorsed competing products and didn’t promote Nature’s Bakery enough on social media.