Sponsor Drops NASCAR Driver Bubba Wallace After He Quit Sunday’s iRacing Event at Bristol
Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images. Pictured: Bubba Wallace
On Sunday afternoon, Ben Blessing was in his home in Tennessee, running around his living room screaming, “I ain’t paying him a cent.”
Blessing is referring to Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr., the NASCAR driver that Blessing’s company Blue-Emu agreed to sponsor for the virtual iRacing event on Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
During the race, Wallace crashed into Clint Bowyer to which Bowyer told the announcing team, “I got Bubba’d.”
Wallace responded on the stream by saying, “That's it. That’s why I don’t take this s*** serious. Peace out!” and promptly quit as his stream went dark.
— Davin (@DriveThrough_) April 5, 2020
Blessing is the executive vice president of pain-relief brand Blue-Emu, which was sponsoring Wallace.
“We aren’t sponsoring Bubba anymore,” Blessing told The Action Network. “Can you imagine if he did that in real life on a track?”
Wallace, who has a reputation of being fiery on the circuit, had a nonchalant reaction after he started to get some blowback for quitting the race.
Bahaha I'm dying at my mentions right now…
I ruined so many peoples day by quiting..a video game..
Bahaha. A video game. Damn quarantine life is rough😂😂😂
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) April 5, 2020
Wallace's NASCAR odds were 60-1 to win at William Hill and was not a popular pick, with less than 2% of the money on Wallace. Fifteen percent of the DFS lineups for Sunday's big DraftKings contest included Bubba.
After Blue-Emu had to stop sponsoring Richard Petty, because of a non-compete with Goody’s, they started sponsoring races of Petty drivers starting in 2015 and had done 10 real races over the past five years. Wallace drives the No. 43 car for Petty's team.
Blessing said that iRacing was a great opportunity for the brand as sales decline in the Coronavirus economy.
“I used to work in NASCAR and you aren’t going to find the dollar-for-dollar return on investment we were getting on this,” said Blessing, who declined to comment how much Blue-Emu was paying Wallace. “We thought this was a blessing in disguise for us. But then you find out that you aren’t sponsoring a NASCAR driver, you are sponsoring someone like my 13-year-old son who broke his controller playing some game where he builds houses.”
Blessing said that an official with Richard Petty Motorsports reached out to Blessing after the race and said they wouldn’t be invoiced for Bubba’s virtual sponsorship on Sunday. Blue-Emu is sponsoring the races on a week-by-week basis. They also sponsor Landon Cassill.
“Landon has been a real pro,” Blessing said. “He’s practicing six to eight hours a day with our brand in the background.”