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« Can Kurt Busch rescue his image by driving for an underdog team? | Main | Kasey Kahne finally has the right owner to make him a title contender »

Joe Gibbs getting a lot of practice at apologizing to sponsors

By admin | January 15, 2012

By Richard Allen

 

By all accounts, former Super Bowl winning football coach Joe Gibbs is a good person. However, his time as a racing owner almost certainly has tested his patience and has absolutely tested his ability to deal with sponsors.

During the years of NASCAR team expansion, Joe Gibbs Racing brought in the young but often volatile and outspoken Tony Stewart to drive for them. While Stewart proved to be a race winner and a championship caliber driver, his outbursts of temper became somewhat legendary among fans and media but disturbing to those who stood to have their images tarnished by his behavior.

In 2002, JGR sponsor The Home Depot took the unusual step of fining their own driver after Stewart shoved a photographer.

“Tony Stewart’s actions following the Brickyard 400 do not at all represent the values and beliefs of the over 290,000 associates who comprise the backbone and spirit of The Home Depot,” the home improvement store said in a release just after the incident.

And further, “We value our relationship with the media, fans and competitors of NASCAR, and the behavior displayed following the Brickyard 400 will not be tolerated from any member of our race team now or in the future.”

Rumor had it at the time that behind the scenes Home Depot very much questioned whether Stewart was the right representative for their company. “Tony has made a commitment to us and we’ve made a commitment to him,” Joe Gibbs said in response to the sponsor’s actions. “He knows he needs help in controlling his emotions and we’re going to do all we can to help and support him. All of our resources, as well as the resources of Home Depot, have been made available to Tony.”

Stewart left JGR at the end of the 2008 season to partner with Gene Haas and form Stewart-Haas Racing. So when Stewart left, the time of having to apologize to sponsors for a driver’s actions was over, right? Well, not exactly.

Just about the time Stewart left(with one year of overlap) Kyle Busch was brought into the JGR fold. And at the end of the 2011 season, Gibbs was once again cast into the middle of a near sponsor revolt after his driver angered and embarrassed a primary backer.

During a Camping World Truck Series race at the Texas Motor Speedway, Busch intentionally wrecked Ron Hornaday after a caution flag had been waved. NASCAR stepped in and benched the offending driver for that weekend’s remaining Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races.

Candy maker M&Ms was so upset that they pulled their colors from the #18 car for the remaining two races of the year. And again, it was reported that Gibbs had to do a considerable amount of apologizing to keep a sponsor from bolting.

But unfortunately for JGR, their issues with major sponsors are now not limited to the NASCAR side of their business. Over the past AMA Supercross off season, Gibbs signed well known rider James Stewart to handle Yamahas for his team and it only took one race for a controversy with a sponsor to arise.

In preparation for the season opening event in Anaheim, California last weekend, Stewart felt uncertain with his bike’s handling. So, the JGR team opted to remove its Pirelli tires and replace them with Dunlop branded rubber during a practice session. The trouble was, Pirelli is one of the team’s sponsors and was not appreciative when the practice change was reported. Once again, apologies were supposedly issued.

During the most recent Supercross telecast this past Saturday, JGR team manager Jeremy Albrecht explained that he would not make the decision to switch away from a sponsor’s product again. That was almost certainly something that had been made clear to him in the following week.

Poor Joe Gibbs. For a man noted for his Christian values and classy demeanor, he sure has to spend a lot of time apologizing to sponsors for things the people around him have done.

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9 Responses to “Joe Gibbs getting a lot of practice at apologizing to sponsors”

  1. Mr. Tony Geinzer Says:
    January 16th, 2012 at 9:18 am

    I really wonder if Rowdy, Jerk Logano and Bubba will all be in my sport when their 40? Trouble is, Rich, Rowdy is trouble and we all know it, Logano is overheated, and Bubba Stewart is not a nice figure in Supercross and don’t even try to get me started on the Bubba vs. Darrell Argument to see who’s worth more of GM JD’s Time.

  2. The Mad Man Says:
    January 16th, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    As long as Gibbs keeps hiring immature hotheads he’s going to have to keep apologizing to sponsors and fans alike. You reap what you sew.

  3. Grteg Says:
    January 16th, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    ” Logano is overheated,” :) I am sure you mean OVER RATED.

    JGR will do what it takes to keep the Big $ SPONSORS

  4. Jim Says:
    January 16th, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Being a longtime fan of both NASCAR and the NFL, I have always admired Joe Gibbs. Unfortunately, those good feelings for him and his operation have soured over the years while watching his drivers act like the cry babies of NASCAR. The venerable “Coach” has covered their collective butts time and time again and it seems he has done little to nothing to curb their offensive behavior.

    Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin are arguably the sport’s biggest cry babies and they have shot Joe Gibbs’ good reputation down, and he apparently doesn’t care, as long as the sponsor money keeps rolling in.

    Joe Gibbs will spend the early weeks, if not months of 2012 running in damage control. M&M Mars in the meantime, will probably be on pins and needles during race weekends, just hoping that Kyle Busch can run some races without causing another uproar.

  5. Andy D Says:
    January 16th, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Anyone who’s taken the time to invent and use silly nicknames like Rowdy has that driver at the forefront of their consciousness. That’s worth the trouble said driver may be causing for the organization because the sponsor knows they’re getting their money’s worth.

    I’d agree that Logano is what everyone had hoped for but I don’t know who else is good enough for a seat on the time. The current free-agents are worn out almost-beens. JGR would be better cutting to a two car team and putting all of their efforts behind the proven winners.

  6. Lydia Says:
    January 16th, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I guess some of us forget what it’s like to be young and think the world was made for you..or if you’re young now ..you think the world is here for you and these young hotheads had better get out of your way! I’m sure in some cases the public takes this whole celebrity/sports star hype to heart and doesn’t shop at Home Depot or eat yummy M&m’s cause a driver had a hissy fit…but, I would hope most of us are mature and smart enough to know what comes out of Kyle’s mouth isn’t packaged in a bag of M&m’s! I’ll be honest I don’t always like what a driver does…but it truly doesn’t affect my shopping habits.

  7. Offkilter Says:
    January 16th, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    Andy D, kyle busch nick-named himself ” rowdy” He stole it from the freakin “days of thunder” flick. How cute it is that he thinls its cool to put it on the roof of his truck

  8. jerseygirl Says:
    January 17th, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Lydia, I don’t shop at Home Depot or buy M&M Mars products period - not necessarily because of what the driver said but more because of continued actions. I get to choose who I cheer for and where I spend my money.

    I can admire the talent without supporting the behavior. Maybe Gibbs should do more mentoring and then he’d have to do less apologizing.

  9. Russ Says:
    January 17th, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    Gibbs and his son have done a really good job of creating a team. Probably his best move was jumping to Toyota at just the right time. That catapulted them to the status they have today.

    As to KB, Gibbs had plenty of less than sterling characters at the Redskins but was able, with the help of a very tolerant home town media group to keep them out of the public eye by and large.

    As for the sponsors I dont choose to make my purchasing decesions because of some PR campaign. But maybe thats just me.