The Frontstretch: Sunoco Misses Yet Another Advertising Bonanza by Jeff Meyer -- Wednesday October 31, 2007

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Sunoco Misses Yet Another Advertising Bonanza

Voices From the Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Wednesday October 31, 2007


Remember way back in February, when Kevin Harvick was firmly ranked first in the Chase after winning the Daytona 500?

Remember all the hoopla by racing pundits everywhere about how Kevin had the Chase all but sewn up?

Me, neither!

What I do remember, though, is all the whining by Sunoco, The Official Fuel Supplier of NASCAR, that the Shell emblem on Harvick's car was way too big, and that it was unfair because … because … oh yes, because the Shell car won and the emblem was too big. You see, Sunoco, The Official Fuel Supplier of NASCAR, had paid millions of dollars to be The Official Fuel Supplier of NASCAR, and they felt it just wasn't right that the car sponsored by a competitor twice as big as themselves won the Daytona 500 … or some such drivel.

What I also remember from way back when was that I said that Sunoco, The Official Fuel Supplier of NASCAR, had obviously spent way too much to actually be The Official Fuel Supplier of NASCAR and not enough on their advertising team. If they did, they would have come up with a clever commercial pointing out the fact that… “Even the Shell car – the winner of the 2007 Daytona 500 – was powered by Sunoco, The Official Fuel Supplier of NASCAR!"

But no; they opted instead to whine and cry about the big Shell emblem, totally missing out on an advertising bonanza in the process. And here we are – eight months later – and all of a sudden, they seem to be missing out once again.

In case you have become a “causal fan” and have not been living and breathing all things NASCAR – as per King Brian's delusional assumptions – you might not know that varying amounts of water were found in the fuel cells and carburetors of several Cup contenders after last Sunday's race in Atlanta. Multiple cars, including the No. 29 Shell car of Harvick and even the race winning car of Jimmie Johnson, showed signs of contamination when analyzed during post-race inspection. However, none were affected to the degree that matched the No. 11 Chevy of Denny Hamlin.

"When I hit the gas, it took off, then it stopped. It took off again, then it stopped,” Hamlin said after a late race restart that ended in a multi-car pileup. “I was just waiting for the hit from behind. We weren’t getting the full potential on fuel. I don’t know how (stuff) got in there. We just poured what we had out of the carburetor, and it was a good amount – a very, very good amount – of water in there. Even the bolts were oxidized.”

While NASCAR's Nextel Cup Director, John Darby, disagrees that Hamlin's restart problems were caused by fuel contamination, he did assure the media that NASCAR was working aggressively with Sunoco to pinpoint the problem. Darby was also quick to reveal the facts as he understood them.

“There are multiple teams that are showing positive for some level of water contamination level in their fuel,” said Mr. Obvious … I mean, Darby. “I can’t tell you the exact number. It’s more than two and less than 43 at the moment. It’s a brownish-colored water. If it was just water, it would be more clear.”

While NASCAR has narrowed down the number of cars affected to be between 2 and 43 — and, more importantly, correctly identified the color of the water — Sunoco, The Official Fuel Supplier of NASCAR, has been strangely silent. Too silent, to the point that you can almost imagine every Sunoco employee has been asked just to stand there, staring at the ground and shrugging their shoulders while muttering, "I dunno."

Now, I can understand that having water found in your "Official Fuel" may be embarrassing to Sunoco, but now is clearly not the time to remain silent. What they really need to do is to treat their advertising team to a really nice lunch and have them put a positive spin on all this mess. Something like…

"Sunoco fuel … even watered down, it still wins at NASCAR's highest level. Just ask Jimmie Johnson!"


"Even in drought conditions, Sunoco can quench your engine's thirst!"

No, you might not be able to take Kasey Kahne to dinner – but you can take his fuel! Just make sure to leave a little earlier!

Stay off the wall,

Jeff Meyer

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Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
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keith magers
11/01/2007 06:29 AM

I owned a couple of service stations in the past. We always used a long numbered stick to measure the amount of fuel in the tanks before a delivery and after a delivery. When we measured the fuel in the tanks we used a paste on the bottom of the stick to check for water, it changed color if there was any water in the bottom of the tank. It was possible to get water out of the pumps when the amount in the tanks was very very low Sunoco should know if there was any water in the bottom of the tanks and how much was there, if water gets in is gas leaking out into the ground? It is a real problem to sell old gas stations because of the clean up need from leaking fuel storage tanks!

11/01/2007 07:24 AM

Sunoco and that world class yes man John Darby know exactly how the water got into the so-called race fuel . And ANY mechanic knows that when you step on the gas , water in the fuel will cause the engine to stumble or stall . If Darby really dissagrees with that then he is a fool . What we have now is the” come up with an excuse to cover what really happened “ phase .
The water had to come from the Sunoco fuel . Doesn’t say much for the quality of their product . It got into the fuel because Sunoco let quality control slide . We’ll hear differently in days to come by the spin machine at NASCAR and Sunoco , but thats what happened . Truex , Hamlin , and others deserve better than that. Some very good cars were torn up because someone didn’t bother to do their job .

11/01/2007 08:01 AM

As a racer i can tell you that water in sunoco fuel at the track is not unusual . I have had problems with it at several tracks . Dont they understand that racers count on a product to do its job. sunoco owes those drivers an apology .

Margo L
11/01/2007 08:25 AM

Boy , first Sunoco makes fools of themselves over the “ decalgate “ at Daytona , and now they show that they can’t make a very good product . No wonder their employees are keeping silent . They’ve embarressed themselves enough this year . I would certainly have to think twice before i put their gas in my car . NASCAR forces companys to pay so much money to be part of the racing , that Sunoco has probably had to drop its quality to save money .

Brian France Sucks
11/01/2007 08:41 AM

They ought to start calling that crap H2OCO, or 3.2 gas. Typical Sunoco, and typical Darby, reading from the script that the France morons gave him.

11/01/2007 01:58 PM

The single biggest joke out of this whole situation is John Darby saying the water did not have any affect on an engines performance!

And the water problem was contained in somewhere between 2 and 43 cars!!!


11/01/2007 01:58 PM

Remeber way back in 2001 when Kevin Harvick didn’t have his own identity and people only liked him because he smelled like the intimidator’s sock’s ? Me either. Now of course he is successful in his own right and if you or no body else can accept him for just being Kevin Harvick get on the JR. BANDWAGON if there is any room!

J. Meyer
11/01/2007 03:44 PM

29ER….Please explain to me where in that article I said anything BAD about Kevin Harvick?! Or not accepting him? Or anything of that nature???
You confuse me.

11/01/2007 05:01 PM

Jeff with all due respect to race fans and supporters everywhere. I have problem with the slamming of drivers unless of course they deserve it.That being said, I felt a sense of sarcasim directed toward Harvick that I as a fan should defend.Please excuse me if I misinterpreted our intent.

11/01/2007 05:49 PM

Now come on Darby, saying water doesn’t cause an internal combustion engine to stumble is like saying its perfectly fine to use water as a fire starter for your bbq grill. it’s just plain stupid. i think any junior high school student in the country could tell you that it WILL cause your engine to stumble. and if you still don’t believe us, pour some water in the gas tank of your street car and tell us that it doesn’t make a difference. go back to school and actually learn something this time.


Contact Jeff Meyer

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