The marriage between Danica Patrick and Nature’s Bakery, Patrick’s primary sponsor in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, has been terminated. Stewart-Haas Racing has filed suit against Nature’s Bakery. Patrick was a great fit due to her promoting healthier living and clean eating.
As first reported by the Associated Press, the $31.7 million breach of contract lawsuit accuses Nature’s Bakery of refusing to pay millions in missed payments to Stewart-Haas.
Nature’s Bakery was entering their second year of three of sponsorship with Patrick and Stewart-Haas. They were scheduled as primary sponsor for 20 races.
According to the suit, Stewart-Haas Racing raised concerns about the Nature’s Bakery sponsorship in 2016 with how they would pay the $15.2 million/year in sponsorship. Despite the concerns, Nature’s Bakery insisted that they would be able to make the payments, and Stewart-Haas accepted the deal. Shortly after the deal was announced, cash flow issues plagued Nature’s Bakery resulting if they could rework the payment schedule, but they continued to miss payments.
The suit also claims that Patrick’s use of social media in promoting “rival” products such as food and protein powders, that were liked by the Nature’s Bakery Instagram account. Nature’s Bakery claimed that Patrick was not promoting their own products enough. The issues were not apparent until Nature’s Bakery began to miss payments.
Stewart-Haas received a letter from Nature’s Bakery in December acknowledging their grievances with Patrick and stating a process of transitioning out of the sponsorship role. The letter “shocked” executives because the team was well underway with preparations for 2017. On January 19, the contract was terminated by Nature’s Bakery.
The first signs of issues with Patrick and Nature’s Bakery came at NASCAR Media Tour when she was wearing a TaxAct firesuit. TaxAct is the primary sponsor for only three races. At that time, executives from Stewart-Haas acknowledged that they were in discussions with Nature’s Bakery, but provided no further information.
Stewart-Haas released a statement acknowledging the situation:
“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 XFNITY Series team. The litigation with Nature’s Bakery will not impact the organization’s on-track efforts.”
Patrick is not the only one with sponsorship woes. Clint Bowyer also is seeking a primary sponsor. Mobil 1 is the primary sponsor of Bowyer’s car for only a select few races in 2017, but other sponsorship for Bowyer is still unknown.