There are so many questions that will be answered in the very short term for Tony Stewart and his entire race team.
Sponsorship drives this sport. Sponsors are looking for good representatives for their brand and to have the most eyes on their logos and their driver.
That representative is responsible for trying to keep their sponsors in a positive light and hopefully in victory lane….and quite often when the positive light begins to fade, sponsors dart.
I can only imagine this will be the case at Stewart-Haas Racing.
In the wake of the fatal incident at Canandaigua Speedway yesterday involving 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr., one can only ask if we witnessed the first sunken ship of the entire Stewart Haas Racing fleet?
Case Study: NAPA and Michael Waltrip Racing
Last season at Richmond, Michael Waltrip Racing allegedly told Clint Bowyer to spin on purpose, and brought one of their cars down pit road to help the third car make the chase.
Sponsor of the third car bolts, causing the organization to stop fielding the entry the following season, the driver to find another team, and a lucky up and comer found a great new sponsor. The NAPA car was embroiled in a controvery as to its legitimacy in the Chase, and that sent the sponsor running for the hills.
So what happens when a driver kills someone? On a race track, wearing your logo? What happens if it’s an accident? What if there are criminal charges?
A big organization in a bad situation
What about the rest of the team? What about Budweiser, Jimmy John’s and Kevin Harvick…or Haas Automation and Kurt Busch, or even Danica Patrick and GoDaddy?
Do they stick around with the team that is in the headlines for all the wrong reasons? Is there enough opportunities for sponsorship and changing teams in the short term to take a driver who is stuck in a spot where his former team is moneyless and embroiled in controversy, or worse, a criminal investigation?
With many of the facts still being uncovered, I do not want to point fingers. But all the early indications show either a very serious and tragic slip in judgement or a terrible accident.
I hope for the later.
Too many unanswered questions
Does Stewart suit up for today’s race at Watkins Glen? Does he back out to show respect? What about the team? Does NASCAR take action?
Right now there are many more questions than answers but looking in the long term, I think this incident is the beginning of the end for one of NASCAR’s more powerful race teams.
Everything that happened tonight did not need to happen.
Accident or not, Stewart must be beside himself. But most of all, the racing world lost another talented driver in Kevin Ward Jr.
Only 20 years old, the driver was competing in his fifth season of racing, and hunting for his fifth Empire Super Sprints win.