NASCAR driver at the center of 'Let's go Brandon' may have to skip races in 2022 due to a lack of sponsorship

·3 min read

Brandon Brown’s embrace of the right-wing slogan that involves his first name hasn’t reaped any financial rewards in 2022.

Brown is stepping out of his No. 68 car for Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and may not compete in many more races the rest of the season. Brown's team is looking to field drivers who have sponsorship money after a deal with a now-defunct political cryptocurrency didn’t flourish.

And that lack of sponsorship is why Brown is searching for funding in an attempt to run as many races as he can the rest of the season in his own car. He'll be in a backmarker car for another team in Saturday's race as Cup Series driver Austin Dillon pilots his car.

“I’ll be back in the No. 68 for a handful of races,” Brown told Frontstretch. “Definitely Daytona [International Speedway]. I’ll be in the No. 68 in the post-season at Talladega [Superspeedway].

“Other than that? Nah, not really. The team is working on trying to sell some rides to other drivers to keep the funding, which, as heartbreaking as it is for me, I do understand what they have to do to keep BMS in operation … What it’s going to take to grow the No. 68 is having other drivers coming and finding success in it, too.”

Brown scored the first win of his NASCAR career at Talladega in October. As fans chanted “F*** Joe Biden” as he emerged from his car, an NBC pit reporter mistakenly said they were chanting “Let’s go Brandon.” The latter slogan immediately emerged as a euphemism for the former and third-party merchandise with Brown’s first name is now ubiquitous in conservative circles.

The 28-year-old meekly attempted to stay apolitical in the weeks after his Talladega win and even claimed to the New York Times in a December profile that he didn’t want to be political. Less than two weeks after that profile, Brown and his family team leaned fully into the politicization and said it had a deal with a Let’s Go Brandon-themed cryptocurrency to sponsor his car for the full season despite NASCAR’s public denouncement of the phrase.

NASCAR didn’t approve the sponsorship deal, though Brown did announce a personal services deal with the coin. And even if NASCAR had approved the car sponsorship, Brown and his team would still likely be in the same financial predicament they find themselves in now.

The cryptocurrency had a minuscule value at the time of the premature announcement and quickly cratered. According to CoinBase, the coin is effectively worthless and there’s been no trading of since late March. It's also a central part of an ethics investigation into Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC).

By choosing to align himself with the now worthless coin, Brown made the late decision to associate with the politicization of the phrase involving his name and alienate himself from any potential sponsor deals with companies wanting to distance themselves from the slogan. And even if you don't agree with that decision, you can see on some level why Brown acted. It can be hard to see others making money off your name and success while you're not benefitting from it yourself.

But there's also no going back from the decision to get political no matter if it pays off financially or not. And Brown may not understand that.

“I’m still viewed as a political figure,” he told Frontstretch. “I can be viewed as divisive because of the chant. It’s really hard to convince companies that, ‘Hey, that’s not me. That’s just what the crowd was chanting.’ It does make it hard.”

LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE - JULY 15: Brandon Brown, driver of the #68 Zero FG Energy Chevrolet, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Crayon 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 15, 2022 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Brandon Brown may not race much the rest of the 2022 Xfinity Series season thanks to sponsorship issues. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
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