Kyle Busch’s fellow Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers didn’t take kindly to his recent criticism of the sport’s marketing efforts, but the sport’s governing body wasn’t as quick to discredit it.
NASCAR’s global chief marketing and sales officer, Steve Phelps, said Wednesday he doesn’t think Busch’s complaint was out of line, according to Motorsport.com. Phelps, instead, admitted that NASCAR only recently began focusing on promoting up-and-coming racers — largely in response Trevor Bayne winning the 2011 Daytona 500 before he was an established name in Cup.
Busch on Tuesday said it’s “stupid” for NASCAR to focus more time and energy on marketing young talent. The comment sparked conversation throughout the sport, with Ryan Blaney and Darrell Wallace Jr., both 24, speaking out against the Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s complaint.
“So, do I think that’s fair that when he came into the sport and started winning right off the bat?” Phelps asked. “Yeah, I think it’s a fair statement that we did not give that kind of support.”
Phelps claims NASCAR always tries to center its promotion around both inexperienced and veteran drivers, though he acknowledged the ratio recently has been skewed in favor of the former.
“Our marketing has traditionally been kind of a combination of deference of the young drivers, probably a little more emphasis on the veteran drivers,” Phelps said, “just because we haven’t had a group or crop of young drivers previously that we’ve had in the last couple years.”
It’s worth noting that Phelps pointed out the sport’s 2018 marketing efforts feature plenty of potential future Hall of Fame drivers, including Busch.