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Fast Take   By Dwight Drum
Web work by Larsen & Drum    Images by Drum
Kevin Harvick Takes NHRA JEGS for a Big Ride into NASCAR

New Hampshire Motor Speedway is known as a flat one-mile track where getting out front is tough and necessary.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet) described the track at Loudon, New Hampshire before racing last weekend.

“New Hampshire is a flat track and can be a one-groove track,” Earnhardt said. “It's tough to pass there, so qualifying is at a premium.”

Earnhardt gave a preview of what was to come in TheRaceDayRaffleSeries.com 175, where JEGS.com embraced the hood of Kevin Harvick Inc.’s entry for the very first time.

Side by side, first and second around the track, lap after lap—Kevin Harvick (No. 2 Chevrolet Silverado) chased Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota Tundra). It was like they were glued together at 100 mph average speeds.

Their 175-lap duel on the 1.058-mile track at Loudon has been called a drag race. That observation would fit Team JEGS entries in NHRA, plus the iconic supplier history of JEGS.com high performance parts firm, but this Camping World Truck Series event was more about two famous NASCAR owner/drivers. This time, Busch won.

“I know he's an owner, driving his own stuff,” Busch said. “He's like myself. He wants to win as much as he can in his own stuff because it feels really good to do so. I knew he was going to race me hard.”

Harvick, known as “Happy,” wasn’t beaming after the grueling performance, but he summed up the day.

"We had a good day despite the fact that we didn't get the win today," said Harvick. "We put on a really good show with the No. 18. I'm really glad we were able to give JEGS.com a great showing today, even though it wasn't the result we wanted."

Busch had Toyota on board for sponsorship for the race, while Harvick had the colorful yellow and black 50th-year celebration from JEGS.

Other low-budget trucks would have been far less expensive to sponsor, but the effect would have been diminished too. Riding around at the back will get exposure owing to brisk crowd attendance at the New Hampshire venue. Droves of fans camp out in the cool September weather to attend a weekend of racing and nearly fill the stands.

But it’s the TV exposure that JEGS and other primary sponsors seek as well, and the exciting battle between Busch and Harvick made for good viewing on SPEED TV.

The family business, JEGS Mail Order, is owned by four Coughlin sons. The oldest son, John, has shifted some of his drag racing time to help son Cody and his ASA Late Model program.

It’s no secret that attendance, viewing, and sponsorship are down for NASCAR events, and NASCAR is acutely aware and is responding in a variety of ways.

NASCAR gave John and Cody royal treatment for their inaugural sponsorship efforts with solo meet-and-greet opportunities in the haulers of Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch.


   
John and Cody Coughlin wait for Kyle Busch   Tony Stewart in hauler with Cody Coughlin

More NASCAR hospitality placed them on top of a hauler viewing platform with owners Richard Childress and Delana Harvick. ESPN commentator Brad Daugherty joined the lofty deck.

NASCAR caters to its marketing partners in various ways. Still, in the troubled economy even a star like Busch struggles to get sponsors for his young NCWTS team.

“I can’t thank Toyota enough and Traxxas, Flexco, NOS Energy Drink, Marquis Jets, Electric Sunglasses and Gillette—I have a lot of people that have been on here this thing all year long and it’s worth it for them,” Busch said. “Hopefully we can get somebody to come on for next year.

“I've had a lot of people I've had conversations with that said, ‘If it wasn't for the way the economy is, for us being a little bit in the downtimes with our business, we'd certainly love to help.’ I've heard that more than, ‘No, we're not interested in you because you win too much or because your personality is not what we're looking at.’ I've heard more about the ROI (Return on Investment) than anything.”

 

Perhaps the sum of exposure will provide proper ROI and JEGS.com can justify coming back with KHI for some thrilling NASCAR moments in the future.

One element won’t change—fans make it all happen in drag racing and in stock car racing. If more fans make it back to the track, while TV viewers get more tuned to races, and both groups become or remain consumers, then sponsors will follow.

JEGS.com got a big single race ride with Harvick and could be back in NASCAR for more.



Kevin Harvick beside his No. 2 NCWTS Silverado
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