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Kurt Busch helps Monster Energy get off to flying start

Updated March 8, 2017 - 8:12 pm

With Kurt Busch having driven to a long-awaited victory in the Daytona 500 while flying the corporate colors of NASCAR’s new title sponsor, it already has been a banner year for Monster Energy.

And in a smaller yet noticeable way, it hasn’t.

“Who would have thought Kurt Busch, our sponsored NASCAR driver, would drive to his first win in the Daytona 500, at our first entitlement race?” said Monster Energy dude Mitch Covington, who also answers to vice president of sports marketing.

There was Busch in Victory Lane, and four hours earlier there was Gronk on the starting grid. A chunk of the televised prerace coverage focused on New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and his new pals, the Monster Energy girls, and their lug-nut tight uniforms.

But where were the banners identifying Monster Energy as the Cup Series’ new title sponsor?

“(Signage) is not a big deal with us,” the Monster Energy dude said. “We do our marketing through integrating our (sponsored) athletes.”

That explains Gronk on the starting grid.

“We choose to show our presence in a different way.”

That explains the outfits of the Monster Energy girls, which showed too much presence for some stock car fans.

Those offended should check the winner’s circle, circa 1973 or 1974, said Mitch Covington, the Monster Energy Dude.

“In NASCAR, you go back to Miss Winston, or Linda Vaughn, Miss Hurst Shifter — they go hand in hand with racing. Models and girls are part of our marketing plan. We want them to play a role.

“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from NASCAR so far.”

 

SLAPS ON WRISTS

NASCAR has penalized three teams for getting caught bending rules at Atlanta Motor Speedway last weekend.

AJ Allmendinger was docked 35 points and crew chief Randall Burnett suspended three races for loose lug nuts; Joe Gibbs Racing forfeited 10 owner points because Kyle Busch’s winning Xfinity Series car was too low to the ground; and Chase Elliott’s Truck Series entry failed postrace inspection, resulting in crew chief Jeff Stankiewicz being fined $5,000 and suspended one race.

DRIVER MEET AND GREETS

A list of where and when you might share a fist bump or collect an autograph from a favorite driver (or crew chief) during NASCAR Weekend in Las Vegas.

(Note: If you aren’t successful in bumping Brendan Gaughan’s fist, you simply are not trying very hard. He’s going to be everywhere, at all times.)

Thursday: Kyle Busch, 4-4:30 p.m., Ethel M Chocolates, Henderson (Q&A only), 5-7 p.m, M&M’s World, Las Vegas Strip; Brad Keselowski, 6-8 p.m., Excalibur; Chase Elliott, Noah Gragson, Matt DiBenedetto, J.J. Yeley, Brandon McReynolds, 6 p.m., Speedway Children’s Charities Driver and Memorabilia Auction, Sam’s Town (emceed by Jamie Little and Brittany Cason); Brendan Gaughan, Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Paul Menard, Ty Dillon, Daniel Hemric and Brandon Jones, 8-9 p.m., South Point.

Friday: Brendan Gaughan, 11-11:40 a.m., City Lights Shine Infield Bar, Neon Garage; Brendan Gaughan and Spencer Gallagher, noon, Neon Garage Stage; Richard Petty, 2 p.m., Neon Garage Stage; Martin Truex Jr., 3:15 p.m., Neon Garage Stage; Kevin Harvick, 3:30 p.m., Neon Garage Stage; Danica Patrick, 6 p.m., Kobalt Kampout in Neon Garage (RV ticket holders only); Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus, 6:40 p.m., Kobalt Kampout in Neon Garage (RV ticket holders only).

Saturday: Brendan Gaughan, 8:45-9:15 a.m., South Point tent, LVMS Fan Engagement Area; Chase Elliott, 10:30 a.m., Neon Garage Stage; Danica Patrick, 10:45 a.m., Neon Garage Stage; Jimmie Johnson, 4-5 p.m., NW Las Vegas Lowe’s, 6050 W. Craig Rd.; Chad Knaus, 4-5 p.m., Lowe’s of Central Henderson, 1401 S. Boulder Hwy.; Jimmie Johnson, 5:30-6:30 p.m., North Las Vegas Lowe’s, 2570 E. Craig Rd.; Chad Knaus, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Lowe’s of Henderson, 440 Marks St.

Sunday: Brendan Gaughan, 9:40-9:55 a.m., Rheem Comfort Display tent, LVMS Fan Engagement Area; Cup Series drivers and crew chiefs, 10:30 a.m., drivers’ meeting in Neon Garage.

Follow all of our NASCAR coverage at reviewjournal.com/NASCAR.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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