KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Danica Patrick, who was so instrumental in elevating the visibility of the GoDaddy brand, will have the opportunity to do the same with another relatively new company—and she’ll have years to do so.
Patrick has signed a multi-year extension with Stewart-Haas Racing, which in turn revealed a new sponsorship deal with Nature’s Bakery, whose paint scheme will adorn the hood of Patrick’s No. 10 Chevrolet as primary sponsor for 28 races per year, starting in 2016.
With the exception of GoDaddy, all the existing partners in Patrick’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series program are returning to fill out the remaining races in her inventory.
Though SHR didn’t reveal the specifics of the contract, team co-owner Tony Stewart indicated Patrick and Nature’s Bakery would be part of the organization for years to come.
“As far as the term of the contract, we never disclose that at SHR, with either our partners or our drivers,” Stewart said. “It’s a multiyear contract. We’ve got a great relationship with Danica and (founder) Dave (Marson) and (executive vice president) Sam (Marson) at Nature’s Bakery.
“This is something that is not a short-term deal by any means. To grow the brand and to help these guys grow this company is not something you do in a one- or two-year deal. We’re really excited about having them on board and having Danica on board long-term as well.”
Even though Patrick is in a contract year, one in which long-time primary sponsor GoDaddy announced it would not return beyond 2015, Patrick says she never opened negotiations with any team other than Stewart-Haas.
“I really feel fortunate that I didn’t have to,” Patrick said. “This is where I wanted to be, and I didn’t get to that point, really, so I’m thankful for that. … This is really the first year that I’ve had to wonder or worry what I’m going to do next year.
“I’ve been extremely fortunate in my career not to have to think that. One deal rolled into the next, and there was not a lot of concern, so I’ve had a lot of comfort over a decade. I think this is a great reminder that closing a chapter can let a new great one open, and one that could be even better than you expected—and I think that’s really the way this turned out.”
Patrick clearly is one of the most marketable drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage, but the way Stewart sees it, her talent and her progress in the sport also are key components in extending her deal.
“I think we’ve all been excited from day one,” said Stewart, a three-time series champion. “Obviously, we all know what the value of Danica’s brand is as well, but watching her from her IndyCar days, I realized how big a talent she is, moreso than a marketing tool. …
“We’re proud of her. We’re proud of her progress. We’re proud of what she does behind (the wheel of) the race car. She’s probably the most detail-oriented driver I’ve ever worked with, as far feedback, attention to detail, as far as describing what her car does and the feel she has in the car—she’s much better at it than I am.”
The Nature’s Bakery sponsorship grew out of a business relationship with Haas CNC, the company run by Stewart-Haas co-owner Gene Haas. Founded in 2010, headquartered in Reno, Nev., and currently employing more the 400 people, Nature’s Bakery manufactures much of its own baking equipment and has been a customer for Haas CNC machines.
Nature’s Bakery hopes the sponsorship of Patrick will accelerate the company’s growth, expansion and the visibility of its on-the-go snacks brand.
“You can look at the size of our company and say we’re the up-and-coming guy who is going to be the next Fortune 500 company, and that’s what we plan on being,” Marson said. “We’re taking and leveraging this opportunity with NASCAR, the NASCAR fan base, to look at our products and to grow and become one of those Fortune 500 companies.
“We thank Stewart-Haas Racing and Danica for believing in us. We came to them with an idea and a dream. We said, ‘We are the new up-and-coming company. Look at us and we’ll show you what we can do.’ They believed in us. We’re really look forward to the opportunity.”
Reid Spencer – NASCAR Wire Service
Image: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for Stewart-Haas Racing