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Nature’s Bakery says it won’t let Stewart-Haas Racing ‘bully us’ with lawsuit

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Claiming that Stewart-Haas Racing is “threatening scorched earth litigation,” Nature’s Bakery stated Thursday that it will not allow the NASCAR team to “bully us.’’

The comment marks Nature’s Bakery first response since Stewart-Haas Racing filed a lawsuit Feb. 3 against the company. Stewart-Haas Racing claims that Nature’s Bakery breached its contract in ending its sponsorship of Danica Patrick’s team last month.

Stewart-Haas Racing seeks $31.7 million from Nature’s Bakery for actual damages plus interest. Nature’s Bakery was to have sponsored Patrick’s team through the 2018 season at $15.2 million per season. Stewart-Haas Racing announced Tuesday that Aspen Dental would expand its support of Patrick’s team this season.

Nature’s Bakery responded Thursday:

“We were thrown off by SHR’s lawsuit,” Company CEO Kelly Allin said in a statement. “SHR and its owners are no stranger to aggressive litigation. Ours is a family business that repeatedly sought to resolve our issues privately. In fact, we were scheduled to meet in Charlotte just days before they sued us.

“Contrary to its image, SHR is run by big-business types that took advantage of Nature’s Bakery. They now are threatening scorched earth litigation against a multi-generational 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.”

In its statement, Nature’s Bakery described Stewart-Haas Racing’s lawsuit as a “false legal complaint.’’ The company also stated that “contrary to SHR statements, Nature’s Bakery remains a healthy and vibrant company.’’

Stewart-Haas Racing stated in its lawsuit that it repeatedly adjusted the payment schedule for Nature’s Bakery. The lawsuit states that “soon after executing the Sponsorship Agreement, Mr. (David) Marson and Joe Marshall (Nature’s Bakery Chief Financial Officer) reached out to SHR executives, and stated that Nature’s Bakery was having cash flow issues, and asked if the payment amounts and deadlines in the Sponsorship Agreement could be modified to assist Nature’s Bakery with its cash crunch.”

Marson, founder of Nature’s Bakery, said in a statement: “We obviously are disappointed in how things turned out, but we wish Danica Patrick and her new Ford team much success on the track this year.  We are always going to be NASCAR fans and support the good works that it represents.” 

Stewart-Haas Racing stated in the lawsuit that the actions of Nature’s Bakery “set SHR up for a devastating loss of revenue just before the beginning of the 2017 race season; and rendered it nearly impossible for SHR to have any reasonable hope of mitigating its damages.”

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

Brett Frood, president of Stewart-Haas Racing, issued a statement in response to the comments by Nature Bakery on Thursday:  

“Nature’s Bakery is in material breach of its contract with Stewart-Haas Racing. It’s an unfortunate situation, but we know we’ve delivered on all aspects of our agreement and more. We took great pride in elevating the brand awareness and relevance of its products and were prepared to continue activating pursuant to the agreement in 2017 and beyond. Nature’s Bakery chose to breach and terminate the contract, leaving SHR in a very difficult position to start the 2017 season. They can file whatever they want. We’re confident with our position.”

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BRANDT returns for third year with JR Motorsports in Xfinity Series

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BRANDT Professional Agriculture will return as a sponsor for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, the team announced Wednesday.

The company will be a primary sponsor of Justin Allgaier‘s No. 7 Chevrolet in 19 races and an associate sponsor of Allgaier and his three teammates the rest of the season.

Brandt has sponsored Allgaier for eight years, including the last three with JR Motorsports.

Allgaier is a native of Riverton, Illinois, which is 15 miles from Springfield, Illinois, where the company is headquartered.

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Allgaier, 31, is coming off his second season that ended with him in the Championship 4. He earned two wins, 10 top five and 17 top-10 finishes. He also led a series-high 495 laps among Xfinity regulars.

He will be teammates with Elliott Sadler, Tyler Reddick and Michael Annett this year.

The Xfinity season begins Feb. 17 at Daytona International Speedway.

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NASCAR revamps Rookie of the Year points system in national series

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NASCAR has changed how it determines the Rookie of the Year in all three national series, it announced Thursday.

The new system, which will debut in a month at Daytona International Speedway, reflects the points system that decides the champion in each series, including the stage format in races.

A race win will earn a rookie candidate 40 points and five playoff points. A second-place finish will is worth 35 points and a third-place finish is 34 points, etc.

A rookie candidate who wins a stage will earn 10 points and one playoff point.

“The focus on our rising stars has never been stronger and simplifying the Sunoco Rookie of the Year system made perfect sense,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing operations in a press release. “Our fans track closely the progress of our young drivers and matching the Sunoco Rookie of the Year points structure with the championship points will help them follow this prestigious program and award more closely than ever before.”

Erik Jones was Rookie of the Year in the Cup Series last year. William Byron won the honor in the Xfinity Series and Chase Briscoe won it in the Camping World Truck Series.

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Watkins Glen, Michigan announce multi-year sponsor deals

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Watkins Glen International and Michigan International Speedway announced multi-year sponsorship deals for their Cup Series races Thursday.

WGI announced the Aug. 5 race at the road course will be sponsored by GoBowling.com. The 90-lap race will be called “Go Bowling at the Glen.”

This is not the first time the bowling brand has sponsored a Cup event. It sponsored the spring race at Kansas Speedway from 2016-17 and the August event at Pocono Raceway from 2013-14.

As part of the deal, Go Bowling will have two bowling lanes at the track for the race weekend.

Michigan has renewed its sponsorship deal with FireKeepers Casino Hotel for its June Cup race for “many years.”

The hotel in Battle Creek, Michigan, began its relationship with MIS by sponsoring pole day in 2014. It began sponsoring the June race in 2016.

TheFireKeepers Casino 400 is scheduled for June 10.

ISM Raceway (Phoenix) also announced the title sponsor for its March 11 Cup race.

The event will called the TicketGuardian 500.

TicketGuardian is a mobile ticketing insurance provider. When fans purchase tickets to events at ISM Raceway, they will be given the option to add TicketGuardian’s ticket protection coverage. This allows fans to have insurance on the tickets they’ve purchased in advance.

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Hendrick, Kelley Blue Book extend relationship through 2020

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Hendrick Motorsports and Kelley Blue Book have extended their sponsorship deal three years through 2020, the team announced Thursday.

The car pricing, research and valuation guide will be a primary sponsor on Chase Elliott‘s N0. 9 Chevrolet in two races each year.

This season it will be on the No. 9 for the Aug. 18 race at Bristol Motor Speedway and the November playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Kelley Blue Book has been partnered with Hendrick since 2014 when it had a one-race deal to sponsor Dale Earnhardt Jr.

It went to a two-race deal beginning in 2016.

MORE: Driving the No. 9 feels like going home for Chase Elliott

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