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. Ten with Townsend: Toronto debrief

    Jul 30, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    TorontoLeadPts Getty Images

    Insights and observations from NBCSN’s Townsend Bell after the pair of Toronto races, heading into Mid-Ohio.

  2. NASCAR AMERICA: Tuesday Round-Up (VIDEO)

    Jul 29, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    NASCAR America

    The impact of the Jeff Gordon Era; a family affair at Indy for the Dillons; thoughts on the Homestead tire test in August.

  3. JGR’s Brickyard penalties in line with similar ’08 penalty for Edwards, Roush

    Jul 29, 2014, 6:34 PM EDT

    Denny Hamlin AP

    Carl Edwards, Jack Roush and crew chief Bob Osborne were severely penalized for a missing oil tank container lid after Edwards’ win at Las Vegas six years ago.

  4. Denny Hamlin’s team hit with big penalties after Brickyard infraction

    Jul 29, 2014, 5:41 PM EDT

    Pocono 400 - Practice Getty Images

    No. 11 crew chief Darian Grubb suspended for six races, fined $125,000; No. 11 car chief Wesley Sherrill suspended for six races; Denny Hamlin loses 75 championship points, but still in position to make the Chase.

  5. High 5: Chip Ganassi Racing’s win streak at Mid-Ohio (VIDEO)

    Jul 29, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    Honda Indy 200 Getty Images

    A look back at Ganassi’s half-decade of dominance at the old-school road course in the Ohio countryside.

  6. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 5 p.m. ET

    Jul 29, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    NASCAR America

    Coming up today: The Top 5 wins of Jeff Gordon’s career; “Scan All 43″ for the Brickyard 400; reaction to Ty Dillon’s Nationwide win at Indianapolis.

  7. NASCAR AMERICA Minute: Where is Jeff Gordon among NASCAR’s greats? (VIDEO)

    Jul 29, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 Getty Images

    Richard Petty and David Pearson were joined on Sunday by Jeff Gordon as the only Sprint Cup drivers to win at least 90 races at NASCAR’s top level.

  8. Susan G. Komen honors Pippa Mann as its rookie-of-the-year; Mann also auctions helmet

    Jul 29, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    PippaKomenAward

    Between a few days in Texas and auctioning off her race worn Indianapolis 500 helmet, it’s been a busy couple of weeks for Pippa Mann and the Susan G. Komen organization.

  9. Chase-eligible teams – but not drivers – allowed at Homestead tire test

    Jul 29, 2014, 2:31 PM EDT

    Advocare 500 - Practice Getty Images

    Chase-eligible teams will have to send a driver not qualified for the post-season to an Aug. 26 tire test at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

  10. IndyCar flashback: Looking at telemetry from Robby Gordon at Mid-Ohio, 1994 (VIDEO)

    Jul 29, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    RobbyDakar AP

    IndyCar heads to Mid-Ohio this week. Here’s how telemetry readings from the track looked 20 years ago.

  11. Caterham, ex-employees to pursue legal action against each other

    Jul 29, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Qualifying Getty Images

    After a group of laid-off employees from Caterham announced their intent to pursue legal action against the team’s new owners, Caterham has said they’ll push for a lawsuit against the ex-employees over “gross misrepresentation of the facts.”

  12. Q&A: Kevin Healy on Milwaukee IndyFest activation heading into Wisconsin State Fair

    Jul 29, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    Milwaukee IndyFest 225 - Day 2 Getty Images

    MotorSportsTalk catches up with Milwaukee IndyFest general manager Kevin Healy of Andretti Sports Marketing for a primer on the level of IndyFest promotion you’ll see at the Wisconsin State Fair, which starts Thursday.

  13. Red Bull’s Horner: “We’ve overachieved in many respects”

    Jul 29, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Christian Horner AP

    It’s been a character-building season for the defending World Champions, but things are looking up for Red Bull going into the summer break.

  14. PWC: Charity efforts and comebacks afoot for Mid-Ohio round

    Jul 29, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    WC

    Two charity cars and three comeback efforts highlight the Pirelli World Challenge weekend at Mid-Ohio.

  15. IndyCar: Hawksworth on the doorstep of breakthrough with BHA

    Jul 29, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    HawkMidO Getty Images

    English rookie Jack Hawksworth has impressed more often than not during his first IndyCar season, and could bag his first win before the year’s out.

  16. Reports: Ecclestone could pay to settle corruption case

    Jul 29, 2014, 10:05 AM EDT

    File photo of F1 chief Ecclestone testifying at district court in Munich Reuters

    Reports Tuesday indicate Bernie Ecclestone could attempt to pay his way out of his corruption case.

  17. Report: Ecclestone says no to standing restarts in 2015

    Jul 29, 2014, 9:49 AM EDT

    GERstart Getty Images

    Bernie Ecclestone speaks out against standing starts, and wants them gone for 2015 before they even get the chance to debut.

  18. What’s next for Roush Fenway Racing?

    Jul 29, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    RFR2015 Getty Images

    Roush Fenway Racing faces a period of uncertainty with its younger lineup for 2015, alongside Greg Biffle.

  19. The F1 points scoreboard at Hungary, 2014 versus 2013

    Jul 29, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    HUNStart AP

    There have been some massive rises and falls in the F1 points tables comparing the 2014 standings post-Hungary to the 2013 ones.

  20. IndyCar working to reduce hand/wrist injuries among drivers

    Jul 28, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

    Firestone 600 - Practice Getty Images

    Among the possible options: A new steering damper, a thumb/wrist brace adapted from motocross, and energy-absorbing material for steering wheels.

Today on NASCAR AMERICA

More from NASCAR America

It's the Jeff Gordon era

Featured video

Inside the Hungarian GP
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. D. Hamlin (1127)
  2. J. McMurray (1081)
  3. A. Almirola (936)
  4. T. Bodine (915)
  5. K. Busch (840)