I’m sure plenty of you remember a few weeks ago when Noah Gragson intentionally wrecked Sage Karam at Road America, setting off a huge wreck that took out nearly half of the field. The wreck was a big deal for a number of reasons – Noah’s return to his hot-headed roots that he seemed to have outgrown, Sage Karam and Tommy Joe Martins’ blistering responses to the wreck in post-race interviews, Dale Jr.’s obvious disappointment in the actions of his young driver, among other things.
Worst of all in my opinion, was that it was a “David vs. Goliath” type of wreck. Noah Gragson, who drives for one of the biggest and most well-funded teams in the sport, vs. Sage Karam, who drives for Alpha Prime Racing, a small team in it’s first year of competition born out of Tommy Joe Martins’ family owned “Martins Motorsports”. Alpha Prime actually rents their garage space from Dale Earnhardt Jr. – it was just a nasty situation all around.
Somewhat lost in the fray though was what happened to Alpha Prime’s other driver, Josh Bilicki, during the wreck. He was able to avoid the main scrum by driving off the racing surface into the grass – but in the process, drove right into a “Sargento Cheese” advertisement. The race broadcast caught the fairly comical moment of Bilicki driving around the track with a big cheese advertisement on his car, trying to shake it loose – eventually managing to do so after a few corners.
Bilicki managed to get his car to pit road, repair the fairly minor cheese-related damages, and rallied for a respectable 13th place finish – a much needed result for the team given that Karam went from a likely top-10 to a DNF thanks to the wreck. But Bilicki’s race wasn’t marked by the solid result for most fans, it was marked by the clips and images on social media of his cheesy off-track excursion.
Well, somebody at Sargento saw those clips, and must have enjoyed them. They even went as far as setting their social media cover photos as Bilicki’s car dragging the sign!
It didn’t stop there. A few weeks ago Sargento sent Bilicki a full-on care package of Sargento products as a presumed “thank you” of sorts for the screen time. Bilicki, a Wisconsin native, of course appreciated the gesture, and filmed an unboxing video of the items. A nice gesture by Sargento for sure – but as much as we wish it were true, cheese doesn’t buy racecars. Fans on social media started calling for Sargento to sponsor Bilicki and Alpha Prime
Thankfully they listened, as it was announced that Sargento will serve as the primary sponsor for Bilicki in the Alpha Prime Racing #45 car when the Xfinity Series heads to Watkins Glen on August 20th. They even made a clever play on what caused the whole deal to come together in their announcement post, with a render of Bilicki’s car driving through a Sargento sign.
In this sport, small teams have to be incredibly savvy in their hunt for sponsorships if they want to survive and thrive. This entire deal coming together for Alpha Prime is a perfect example of that – and a fantastic example of making the best out of a bad situation.
Photo Credit: Alpha Prime Racing Twitter