It's ridiculous that sponsorship basically forced this to happen.
But you gotta wonder ... how uninteresting/marketable does a guy have to be if a NSCS championship and 2 Daytona 500 wins can't help him hold on to a sponsor?
Which is even odder b/c supposedly Kenseth is one of most popular guys in the garage. Just, apparently, no personality at all in front of a camera....
Well, would you really want that guy trying to make a commercial for you, pitching a product? Let's face it, Kenseth needs to drive the Sominex 17.
I doubt he moves much merchandise but Little E still probably has more sales than all other drivers combined so I doubt that's too much of a factor.
To your first point; exactly.
As for the second... I don't have exact numbers, but I'm sure they're out there. One gauge I glance at from time to time though is the top of the NASCAR.com store
The numbers shift in order of top sellers. Obviously, the 88 rarely moves (I think there was about 2 days after Homestead where 14 was in front), but the next 3 are 48, 14, and 24. Kenseth doesn't show up until 11. Not a great metric really, but I think it makes a point.
Hell, Dewalt is still in NASCAR... they just opted for sponsoring an Australian road course specialist.