An attempt to engage with fans at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July apparently cost Daniel Suarez one of his highest profile sponsors.
Joe Gibbs Racing was blindsided Saturday when Subway terminated its sponsorship agreement, which had one race remaining on it, apparently as a result of a TV segment that Suarez took part in with NASCAR on NBC’s Rutledge Wood ahead of the Overton’s 301, according to Motorsport.com
The piece, titled “Donuts with Daniel Suarez,” featured the JGR rookie driving around NHMS with Wood, handing out Dunkin’ Donuts. Subway said in a statement that it severed ties with Suarez “due to circumstances beyond our control,” though team owner Joe Gibbs reportedly believes it stemmed from the NBC segment.
“That’s my understanding. That’s what I’ve heard,” Gibbs said. “It’s a surprise because we only heard about it (Saturday).”
Although Subway doesn’t sell donuts, it has sold breakfast since 2010. As a result, it’s believed that Subway viewed the TV appearance as him promoting a direct competitor.
A JGR spokesperson, however, claims the bit didn’t represent a breach of contract.
“Daniel didn’t do anything to violate any sort of moral clause,” the spokesperson told Catchfence.com.
Subway has been in business with JGR since Carl Edwards signed with the team in 2015, and extended that relationship following Edwards’ retirement by agreeing to sponsor Suarez for four races in 2017. The company already has sponsored his No. 19 for three races this year, and its logos were slated to adorn the car again during the Alabama 500 on Oct. 15.
Gibbs especially was caught off guard by the announcement, as he said the team had been in talks with Subway regarding a deal for the 2018 season.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images