Nature’s Bakery said Stewart-Haas Racing’s lawsuit against the snack company is a threat of “scorched earth litigation” and that it plans to defend itself from the race team in counterclaims.
SHR filed a suit against Nature’s Bakery earlier this month after the company wasn’t on any of Danica Patrick’s team apparel during her media day appearances in January. Nature’s Bakery signed a three-year agreement to replace GoDaddy as Patrick’s primary sponsor starting in 2016.
The team said in its breach of contract suit that Nature’s Bakery owed over $30 million on the remainder of its agreement with the team and that the company tried to rework its payment plan with the team. It also said Nature’s Bakery had accused Patrick of not fulfilling her role as a brand ambassador to the company.
In a statement Thursday, Nature’s Bakery said it would provide more details to its side of the story soon and its court filing would “shed light on SHR’s conduct both during the race season and after.”
“Contrary to its image, SHR is run by big-business types that took advantage of Nature’s Bakery,” CEO Kelly Allin said in a statement. “They are now threatening scorched earth litigation against a multi-general 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 a statement to ESPN, SHR president Brett Frood stood by the team’s claim that the company breached its contract.
“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.”
Stewart-Haas announced earlier this week that Aspen Dental would become the “lead sponsor” for Patrick and would sponsor “double-digit” races for the driver in 2017. Aspen Dental was originally scheduled to be a primary sponsor for a few races as Nature’s Bakery was slated to sponsor Patrick in more than 20 races.
The absence of Nature’s Bakery makes a sponsor shortage at Stewart-Haas even bigger. The team is still looking for funding for Clint Bowyer’s No. 14 car for numerous races and co-owner Gene Haas’ company Haas CNC is a half-season sponsor for Kurt Busch. In its statement announcing the suit, the team said it was committed to fielding cars for Bowyer, Busch, Kevin Harvick and Patrick all season.
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