Danica Patrick has a favor to ask:
Anybody got $15.2 million to spare?
It's kinda important, and time-sensitive. With Speed Weeks right around the corner in Daytona the following weekend, Patrick has been left in the lurch by her primary sponsor, Nature's Bakery.
The company, based in Nevada and specializing in healthy products like fig bars, is reneging on its NASCAR Monster Energy Cup sponsorship deal with Patrick, who drives for Stewart-Haas Racing.
Nature's Bakery claims that Patrick was in breach of contract for promoting competing products. Stewart-Haas Racing has sued Nature's Bakery for breach of contract.
It's a prickly situation for all involved. But the most pressing issue is how will Patrick cobble together enough sponsorship dollars for the entire 36-race Cup season?
Nature Bakery's sponsorship included at least 20 races this season. Do the math. Not good.
This was the second year of a three-year agreement that Patrick signed with Nature's Bakery. It seemed like an odd fit. Patrick most certainly leads and promotes a healthy lifestyle, but Nature's Bakery is a small company among sponsorship giants like Lowe's and Nationwide Insurance.
Regardless of how this plays out in court, we have a problem.
"Nature's Bakery is in material breach of its contract with Stewart-Haas Racing," the team said in statement after the news was first reported by the Associated Press. "It is an unfortunate situation, as the team has delivered on all aspects of its contract and was prepared to do so again in 2017. Ultimately, this is a situation that will be resolved in a court of law.
"Stewart-Haas Racing remains focused on its preparation for the 2017 NASCAR season where it will again field four entries in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series while also introducing a full-time NASCAR XFNITY Series team. The litigation with Nature's Bakery will not impact the organization's on-track efforts."
We shall see. Patrick has secondary sponsors in Aspen Dental (four races), TaxAct (three races) and Code 3 (three races).
Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking on the season countdown, and Patrick has $15 million reasons to worry.