After the embarrassment of Kurt Busch's Homestead tirade at ESPN's Dr. Jerry Punch – which was caught on video and distributed via YouTube – Penske Racing sponsor Shell-Pennzoil released a strongly worded statement.
The company said it was "disappointed" with Busch's actions, which were "in no way consistent with the way we want our brands represented." Shell also said it expressed its concerns "directly to Penske Racing."
Ten days later, Busch and Penske announced a "mutual" split. And while both sides insisted it wasn't a firing, Penske certainly had to be under pressure from Shell to work out a separation with the driver.
Penske was then charged with finding a suitable replacement for the No. 22 car – a driver who could not only win races, but also represent the Shell brand without any drama.
While we don't yet know how much input Shell had over Penske's decision to hire AJ Allmendinger on Wednesday, I'm guessing it was quite a lot.
Shell likely didn't dictate the hiring outright, but it certainly had to give its approval and probably played a big role in the overall search.
And along with the announcement, the company released the following statement – a much happier one than the post-Homestead comments:
"Shell and Pennzoil are extremely pleased by Penske Racing's selection of AJ Allmendinger to drive the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge. AJ has consistently demonstrated great potential and continuous improvement as a driver, and with Penske's track record, our employees and customers can look forward to seeing him contending for wins and ultimately a championship in the NASCAR Cup Series. We know he will represent our brands well on and off the track and we look forward to a successful 2012 with AJ behind the wheel."
– Lisa Davis, president of Shell Oil Products U.S.