Mike Skinner and the Affliction #00 Toyota finished in the same position it started from, 35th, in tonight’s Pepsi 500 in Fontana, California. Skinner ran near the rear of the field for most of the race finishing a lap down from the leaders. He did crack the top 25 at one point during the race, running as high as 22nd on the leaderboard.
There’s good news and bad news. The good news is Skinner didn’t crash the Affliction car. There will not be an image of Affliction going up in flames spreading around the MMA blogosphere and message boards. The bad news is the Affliction car didn’t get a whole lot of TV time.
I didn’t watch the entire race, but I caught quite a bit of it. The only time I actually saw the Affliction car was when it was being lapped by a few of the front runners ESPN happened to be focusing on at that point in time. Even then, I don’t think I would have noticed who the sponsor was if I wasn’t looking for it. I do have a 27″ cube for a TV, so I’m sure it was a little more visible in HD, but I had a real hard time even making out the big Affliction logo. Forget about the pay-per-view advertisement. That was just a blur. Quite honestly, I have no idea how anyone who wasn’t close enough in person to clearly see the hood had any idea it was an advertisement for a mixed martial arts event.
The problem with one race sponsorship deals is the cars that actually have availability mid-season aren’t very good and often times they’re just filler cars needed to fill the last few spots in the field. There’s an old saying in motorsports, “Speed is money. How fast do you want to go?” That’s exactly how it works in NASCAR. All the top teams that have full season sponsorship deals invest millions upon millions of dollars into their race programs, which in turn, translates into speed. Some of these smaller teams like Michael Waltrip Racing just don’t have the same resources as a team like Hendricks Motorsports, who happened to have the winning car in tonight’s race. Mike Skinner may not be best driver in the world, but it really wouldn’t have mattered who was in Affliction’s driver seat tonight. The car may only be as good as the driver, but in many cases, the driver is only as good as the car. Skinner did his job tonight, he didn’t wreck and he finished the race.
In all honesty, unless a company has a long-term sponsorship deal, I really don’t see the point to sponsoring a race car for one race, especially when it never had a chance to finish well to begin with. Sure, it may be one of the trendier ways to advertise your product, but without the exposure, how can it be effective? Where’s the return on your investment?
Bottom line, I seriously doubt this will translate into a significant number of pay-per-views for Affliction come Oct. 11.