Race Weekend Central

Tony Stewart Propels HuckleBerry Pets to Official Small Business of NASCAR Crown

NASCAR has officially gone to the dogs thanks to HuckleBerry Pets, the newest “Official Small Business of NASCAR, Courtesy of Office Depot.” Who would have guessed that a few short months ago, Kacie Howard, owner of the Daytona Beach company would wind up with such a prestigious honor? It all started after a simple sweepstakes entry, made online at www.OfficeDepotRacing.com with the support of friends and family who nominated her business to reach the final round.

This year, Office Depot partnered with 3M for the national promotion, which added an interesting twist to the final competition. The second finalist was Bales Mold Service Inc., based out of Downers Grove, Ill. and owned by Sara Mortensen. Both were present at the Atlanta Motor Speedway during the extended AdvoCare 500 weekend, where Howard and Mortensen were randomly paired up with Tony Stewart and 3M driver Greg Biffle, respectively.

Both entrepreneurs received a $10,000 small business makeover from Office Depot just for making it… but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Once the green flag flew on Tuesday, the owner paired with the highest finishing team by the checkered would be crowned the 2011 “Official Small Business of NASCAR, Courtesy of Office Depot.” If one of the two drivers pulled into victory lane at the end of the race, their business would become $1 million richer.

The numbers going into the race certainly suggested that there were no clear favorites. Stewart was the event’s defending champion and a three-time winner at the Georgia track with an average finish of 11.2. However, he had been struggling as of late, without a top-five result over the last five races heading into the Labor Day Weekend event.

Biffle, meanwhile, had an average finish of 16.1 this season and pilots a Roush Fenway Ford Fusion – always a threat to win at the circuit’s intermediate tracks such as Atlanta’s 1.5-mile oval.

Both drivers had up and down days; at one point, it looked like Biffle had it in the bag after a pit-road snafu left the No. 14 car fighting from the back of the lead lap. But, in the end, it was Stewart’s mad dash in the final laps from ninth to third place that awarded Howard and HuckleBerry Pets the distinction of being the sport’s Official Small Business.

A joyous Howard, now armed with the honorable title in hand could not be more thankful for the opportunity and the effort put forth by Stewart.

“I’m extremely grateful for everything Office Depot has done for me and for this amazing opportunity,” she said. “And I can’t thank Tony Stewart enough for his performance during today’s race … what a finish!”

Stewart, who owns 13 small businesses himself, understood just how much the award meant to Howard. Killing two birds with one stone, getting his Chase priorities in order while giving Howard the winning edge, he was excited to be a part of helping HuckleBerry Pets take the next step in their plan for growth.

“Kacie is a great example of a small business owner who has worked hard to build her company from the ground up,” he proclaimed. “I am very proud to help Office Depot provide a deserving small business owner like Kacie with this kind of opportunity.”

In addition to the $10,000, Howard also received the rights to us use the “Official Small Business of NASCAR, Courtesy of Office Depot” logo for one year. She already has plans to purchase computers, printers and other general supplies for HuckleBerry Pets, which specializes in manufacturing comfortable, stylish and durable pet beds using orthopedic mattresses that help support a pet’s muscles and bone structure.

HuckleBerry Pets and Bales Mold Service Inc. were not the only organizations to come away with a little help from Office Depot. One business owner who entered the sweepstakes was randomly selected to receive a $1,000 Office Depot gift card as well as officially licensed NASCAR memorabilia.

As the economy struggles to recover from the “great recession,” forcing business owners to become creative to keep their organizations afloat, perhaps they should consider next’s years “Official Small Business of NASCAR, Courtesy of Office Depot” sweepstakes. The national recognition and cash prizes alone are enough to make any entrepreneur smile. Just ask Kacie Howard.

Learn More
Office Depot, Small Business of NASCAR Official Website

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About the author

Tony Lumbis has headed the Marketing Department for Frontstretch since 2008. Responsible for managing our advertising portfolio, he deals with our clients directly, closing deals while helping promote the site’s continued growth both inside and outside the racing community through social media and traditional outlets. Tony is based outside Philadelphia.

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