News & Media

Finalists named in small business sweepstakes

August 31, 2011, Official Release,

Both receive a $10,000 office makeover, VIP experience during weekend at Atlanta

NASCAR and Office Depot announced on Thursday the two small business finalists that could take home $1 million in its annual Official Small Business of NASCAR, Courtesy of Office Depot sweepstakes. Office Depot partnered with 3M for the promotion.

Finalists Kacie Howard, owner of HuckleBerry Pets, in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Sara Mortensen, owner of Bales Mold Service, Inc., in Downers Grove, Ill., will be officially introduced during a special event on Friday, Sept. 2 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Howard, 32, and Mortensen, 27, will be joined at a news conference by Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle.

"Greg [Biffle], his 3M team and I are proud to have the finalists represented on our cars this weekend."


Stewart and Biffle will each feature one finalist's logo on their respective race cars during Sunday's AdvoCare 500. Howard was randomly paired with Stewart, while Mortensen was matched with Biffle.

The small business featured on the highest-finishing driver's car at the end of Sunday's race will be named the 2011 Official Small Business of NASCAR, Courtesy of Office Depot and receive the use of the official logo for one year. Additionally, if Stewart or Biffle win the race, the small business featured on the winning car will walk away with $1 million. As finalists, both Howard and Mortensen receive a $10,000 small business makeover from Office Depot and a VIP experience this weekend at Atlanta.

"I'm excited to reward small business owners for the hard work and dedication they put into taking care of business every day," Stewart said. "Greg [Biffle], his 3M team and I are proud to have the finalists represented on our cars this weekend, especially knowing that we can deliver a $1 million prize for one lucky small business owner with a win. It's going to be a fight to the finish!"

Stewart is the defending winner of Sunday's race and Biffle - with three top-five and nine top-10 finishes in 16 starts -- will look to make his first trip to Victory Lane at Atlanta.

"Office Depot and 3M have come together and given small business owners an amazing opportunity with the Official Small Business of NASCAR, Courtesy of Office Depot sweepstakes," Biffle said. "As a small business owner myself, I have a real appreciation for what it takes to build a successful small business, and it means a lot to me to be involved in this promotion. I'm looking forward to getting to know the two finalists this weekend and doing everything I can to get to Victory Lane."

Meet the finalists

Kacie Howard, owner of HuckleBerry Pets

Kacie Howard, an avid NASCAR fan whose daughter was born on the day of the 2002 Daytona 500, started HuckleBerry Pets in July 2010 with her husband, Chris. The business specializes in manufacturing comfortable, stylish and durable pet beds using orthopedic mattresses that help support a pet's muscles and bone structure.


Howard learned about the sweepstakes online. After entering, Howard worked to obtain additional entries by asking friends and family to nominate her business. She plans to use the $10,000 Office Depot makeover to purchase computers, printers and other general supplies for her business.

"I'm extremely grateful to be named one of this year's Official Small Business of NASCAR, Courtesy of Office Depot finalists," Howard said. "This is such a great opportunity and provides a fresh new incentive for my business. With the way the current economy is in relation to small businesses, there are many people who have been talking doom and gloom, so it's nice to have something positive happen."

If Howard were to win the $1 million prize, she said she would set her sights on expanding her business.

Sara Mortensen, owner of Bales Mold Service, Inc.

Sara Mortensen's father, Steve Bales, and uncle, Mike Bales, founded Bales Mold Service, Inc., in 1978. Bales Mold Service represents the cutting edge of engineered coatings and finishes, and continues to be at the forefront of developing technology to service varied industries. In 2009, Mortensen's father passed away and the company was handed down to her and her sister, Stacey Bales. Knowing that their father was a racing fan, Mortensen dug out his old NASCAR hat and put it on her desk for good luck after entering this year's sweepstakes.


Mortensen found out about this year's sweepstakes while shopping online and utilized her company's Facebook and Twitter pages to campaign for additional entries. She also worked with her colleagues, vendors, family and friends to increase the amount of nominations she received. Mortensen's receptionist, Cheryl Kennedy, also played a major role in helping her get the word out share in the VIP experience as a thank you for the hard work and encouragement she provided throughout the entry period.

"I still can't believe I won this's just really neat," Mortensen said." This is probably one of the coolest things to ever happen to me. I'm very thankful that Office Depot and 3M are giving small business owners like me a chance to be a part of such a great promotion. I can't wait to take advantage of the exciting opportunities that go along with being one of the finalists. The $10,000 Office Depot makeover will be the first major step in helping me to expand my business."

The Official Small Business of NASCAR, Courtesy of Office Depot sweepstakes finalist prize package includes the following:

A $10,000 small business makeover from Office Depot (if applicable, the $1 million payout would negate the $10,000 small business makeover). VIP race experience for two at the Sept. 2-4 Sprint Cup Series race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Use of the Official Small Business of NASCAR, Courtesy of Office Depot logo for one year, including on company stationery materials.

Outside of the two finalists, Office Depot allowed more small business owners to win big this year. Every day during the sweepstakes promotion window, which ran from May 1 through May 28, one small business owner was randomly selected to receive a $1,000 Office Depot gift card and NASCAR memorabilia just for entering.