Take a quick glance down the entry list for Sunday’s race at Phoenix, and the most kid-centric sponsor on the sheet is M&M’s.
It’s not Budweiser or Stanley Tools, ubermacho brands that could actually work middle finger anger into their marketing scheme. Nobody should dogpile on Kyle Busch for flipping off a NASCAR official because they don’t like Kyle Busch. But they should hold him to a higher standard because he drives the car that’s most related to children, and therefore he represents the company that is most negatively affected by obscene gestures.
When children act up, they get their toys taken away from them. And M&M’s parent company, MARS, can set an example for little ones currently thinking of Santa’s naughty-or-nice standards by putting Busch in timeout for one week.
No, Busch shouldn’t be in the No. 18 Camry at Phoenix. A car that’s painted like a cartoon strip has to have a zero-tolerance policy on middle fingers. Tony Stewart may have done worse during his time at Joe Gibbs Racing, but he was driving for Home Depot, another roughneck kind of sponsor that could publicly scowl over boorish behavior but appreciate the upside behind the scenes.
In the case of Busch’s sponsor, there is no benefit. However, imagine the millions of dollars in exposure should his sponsor put him on the bench for the penultimate race of the season. It would be a top story from SportsCenter to The Today Show (which ironically has been doing a series on the decline of civility in America).
Busch deserves this for undercutting a sponsor that not only presented him with one of the top-funded cars in the Cup Series, but also went the extra mile in finding some spare coin for Busch’s cash-bleeding Truck Series team.
Just for that, Busch should be willing to play along even if it would make him want to punch a hole in the wall. Ownership certainly hasn’t matured Busch the way it has for Tony Stewart. And M&M’s can’t afford to wait for the next shoe to drop.
Especially when there’s so much to be gained right now.