Skip to content

Hendrick doing well to prepare for possibility of National Guard leaving the 88

May 15, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

DaleJrGuard AP

Rick Hendrick didn’t get to be one of NASCAR’s most successful owners by not seeing the trends and directions the business is going.

Hendrick, and his entire Hendrick Motorsports organization, have done an excellent job of putting together partnerships to keep his empire at the top of the NASCAR heap.

He’s done it for more than 25 years, despite partners that have come and gone.

He’s doing it again, now, in preparing for the possible departure of the National Guard from Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 car.

The increase in sponsor announcements with new partners Nationwide Insurance and DC Entertainment being announced within the last few weeks, and also with Mtn Dew stepping up its activation with a series of videos, are clear signs that Hendrick’s team is working ‘round the clock to get more companies on board the 88 in case the Guard departs.

It’s not inconceivable that they will – witness two reports of note from the past couple weeks.

A USA Today report indicated that despite the more than $26+ million spent on activation and sponsorships in 2012, there was not a single recruit signup at a NASCAR event.

While that doesn’t factor into account local branches where the Guard could attract –and sign – new recruits, it’s still a worrying report.

Then there’s this from Sporting News’ Bob Pockrass, veteran NASCAR reporter who is among the best at deciphering the business side of the sport:

The Army National Guard has a new leader in Judd Lyons, who took over in January. At a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing last week, Lyons vowed to re-examine the effectiveness of the National Guard sponsorship. He said the Guard is conducting more in-depth surveys of those enlisting to determine what led them to enlist, which in turn should help them understand the value.

Political pressure of military sponsorships in NASCAR is nothing new. It’s been going on for several years. And that’s the way it should be — those in charge of spending taxpayer dollars have an interest in how those dollars are spent.

When a change at the top happens to any company – especially one whose motorsports’ spending have been as closely scrutinized as the Guard’s has been – you have to begin preparing for the eventuality that the deal is closer to the end of its life span than the beginning.

The Guard has backed Dale Jr. and the 88 since his move to Hendrick Motorsports in 2008.

If you’re the Guard, you’ve supported NASCAR’s most popular driver through thick-and-thin, and through what have been more trying years than actual delivery on track.

Junior’s made the Chase each of the last three years, but prior to his much appreciated Daytona 500 victory this year, he’s won only two other races in his stint at Hendrick. He’s still never won a championship, even though he has a good shot to this year in his last season with crew chief Steve Letarte (another area Hendrick will need to address for 2015).

Sponsors demand ROI, even if they happen to have one of the sport’s most marketable drivers, and even if they have the most popular driver.

But they don’t stay on forever. And at only seven years together, the Guard-Dale Jr. relationship isn’t at the length of a Jeff Gordon-DuPont or John Force-Castrol type relationship of 20 or more years.

Hendrick prepared for the eventuality of DuPont’s departure as Gordon’s primary backer by having other associates ready to step up, and ultimately putting together a deal with the AARP’s Drive to End Hunger that has now been the primary backer on the 24 car for several seasons.

You can tell he’s doing the same now on the 88 to keep Dale Jr., in the face of what appears to be a slowly phased down withdrawal by the Guard.

Latest Posts
  1. Bubba Wallace dominates to win MudSummer Classic at Eldora (updated)

    Jul 23, 2014, 10:46 PM EDT

    Darrell Wallace Jr. AP

    Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. and Kyle Larson put on a spectacular battle in the final 40-lap segment of Wednesday’s second MudSummer Classic at Eldora Speedway, but it was Wallace holding on for the win.

  2. Bubba Wallace still in the lead going into final 40-lap segment of MudSummer Classic at Eldora

    Jul 23, 2014, 10:19 PM EDT

    (AP Photo/Butch Dill) AP

    Darrell Wallace Jr. continues to lead after 110 laps (at the time of a second and final mandatory competition caution) in Wednesday night’s MudSummer Classic at Eldora Speedway.

  3. Bubba Wallace leads after first of three segments in MudSummer Classic at Eldora

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:42 PM EDT

    BubbaEld1 Getty Images

    At the end of the first segment of Wednesday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series MudSummer Classic at Eldora Speedway, it’s Darrell Wallace Jr. in the lead.

  4. All heat results from MudSummer Classic at Eldora

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:18 PM EDT

    mudsummer classic logo

    For those of you keeping score at home, here’s the results of all five heat races and the “last chance” race prior to Wednesday night’s second annual MudSummer Classic at Eldora Speedway.

  5. Kurt Busch 25th in Sprint Cup points — IndyCar, too

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:06 PM EDT

    kurt busch indy car 2 AP

    Thanks to a statistical quirk, Kurt Busch is ranked in the same place in the points standings in both the Sprint Cup Series and Verizon IndyCar Series.

  6. NASCAR America: Almirola and Hornish on what makes the Brickyard 400 so important

    Jul 23, 2014, 6:52 PM EDT

    hornish at newton win

    On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, Aric Almirola and Sam Hornish Jr. discussed some of the biggest wins of their careers and talk about the importance of the Brickyard 400 on the NASCAR calendar.

  7. NASCAR America: Richard Petty Motorsports in the Chase

    Jul 23, 2014, 6:42 PM EDT

    AlmirolaDIS1 Getty Images

    On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR AMERICA, 2014 Coke Zero 400 winner Aric Almirola took a look at the Chase for the Sprint Cup grid and also evaluated Richard Petty Motorsports’ performance through the first 19 races of the 2014 season.

  8. NASCAR America Minute: Brickyard 400 is ‘a big deal’

    Jul 23, 2014, 6:37 PM EDT

    nascar america

    On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR AMERICA, Aric Almirola and Sam Hornish Jr. previewed Sunday’s 21st running of the Brickyard 400 at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

  9. Erik Jones takes first career Truck pole — and does it in first time racing on dirt — for MudSummer Classic at Eldora

    Jul 23, 2014, 6:27 PM EDT

    erik jones wins ncwts at iowa AP

    Before Wednesday, the only dirt Erik Jones ever raced on was back in the tiny rural town he grew up in, little Byron, Mich., population 561. On two feet, too. But that didn’t stop Jones from winning the pole for tonight’s MudSummer Classic NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway.

  10. Reggie Wayne shows up to Colts camp in a two-seater IndyCar

    Jul 23, 2014, 5:43 PM EDT

    WayneCarp AP

    Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne, healthy, rides into training camp as a passenger in a two-seater IndyCar driven by Ed Carpenter.

  11. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA – Special 6 pm ET start time with Almirola, Hornish, Eldora highlights

    Jul 23, 2014, 3:26 PM EDT

    140723-nascar-america-site

    Hey there, NASCAR AMERICA is back! After a brief vacation just like the Sprint Cup drivers enjoyed during the last off-weekend of the 2014 season, we’re back in the studio and at the shops, ready to give you the latest news in the world of NASCAR.

  12. Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney fastest in Eldora Truck practices

    Jul 23, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT

    Austin Dillon won the inaugural MudSummer Classic race at Eldora Speedway in 2013. (Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney recorded the top speeds in the two practice sessions for Wednesday night’s second annual MudSummer Classic NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Eldora Speedway.

  13. Highlights of IndyCar’s Honda Indy 2 in Toronto (VIDEO)

    Jul 23, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    ConwayTOR3 AP

    Video highlights from the Honda Indy 2 in Toronto on Sunday.

  14. IMSA: Sage Karam joins CGR lineup at IMS

    Jul 23, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Karam01 Getty Images

    Sage Karam fills in for Memo Rojas at IMS for the TUDOR Championship race this weekend.

  15. NASCAR: Logano interview makes one young writer’s dream come true

    Jul 23, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

    LoganoAT Getty Images

    University student gets to interview Joey Logano at New Hampshire, and fortuitous timing before his day ended early due to contact with Morgan Shepherd.

  16. NASCAR: Mudsummer Classic at Eldora looks for a solid sequel

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:43 AM EDT

    The CarCash Mudsummer Classic Getty Images

    Eldora Truck race tonight seeks to be as good as the original.

  17. NASCAR: Rudd, Jarrett, Bobby Labonte look back on Brickyard 400 triumphs

    Jul 22, 2014, 8:33 PM EDT

    Ricky Rudd Getty Images

    Time has not lessened the significance of winning at Indy for these three NASCAR standouts.

  18. NASCAR: This time at Indy, it’s just stock cars for Kurt Busch

    Jul 22, 2014, 7:13 PM EDT

    (Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The Outlaw returns to Indianapolis for the first time since his Indy 500-Coke 600 double back in May.

  19. IndyCar: Want Juan Pablo Montoya’s penthouse? It’ll cost you – a lot

    Jul 22, 2014, 5:54 PM EDT

    montoya3 Getty Images

    The Team Penske pilot is putting up his six-bedroom Miami penthouse for a cool $14 million. Better start saving up…

  20. NASCAR: Roush camp looking for speed in Michigan test

    Jul 22, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT

    AAA Texas 500 Getty Images

    Seeking to catch up with their Ford stablemates at Team Penske, Roush Fenway Racing’s trio of Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. have been searching for speed in a two-day test session at Michigan International Speedway.

Today on NASCAR AMERICA

More from NASCAR America

Brickyard 400 is 'a big deal'

Featured video

Inside scoop with Adrian Sutil
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. K. Kahne (791)
  2. T. Stewart (641)
  3. J. Gordon (638)
  4. B. Scott (583)
  5. C. Edwards (540)