May 15, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
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.
Aug 27, 2014, 10:49 AM EDT
IndyCar will formally confirm the addition of New Orleans to its 2015 schedule later Wednesday.
Aug 27, 2014, 1:23 AM EDT
MotorSportsTalk sorts out fact from fiction regarding the yet-to-be-revealed 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, based on hints from today’s NASCAR schedule release.
Aug 26, 2014, 10:41 PM EDT
NASCAR star Kevin Harvick has never been afraid to speak his mind. But the Tony Stewart/Kevin Ward Jr. tragedy has caused him to be more judicious in what he says and also “frustrated” at how the media has dealt with the entire incident.
Aug 26, 2014, 8:51 PM EDT
The long-awaited release of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule was much less of the surprise many expected. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Aug 26, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
Brad Keselowski won his first Camping World Truck Series race last Thursday at Bristol, but his and two other teams have been dinged by NASCAR after their Trucks failed post-race height requirements.
Aug 26, 2014, 7:06 PM EDT
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice president of racing operations, explains the factors that influence how the final racing schedule is created.
Aug 26, 2014, 6:21 PM EDT
The NASCAR AMERICA crew make their initial observations of the 2015 Sprint Cup docket (Hint: They’re really happy about Darlington returning to Labor Day weekend).
Aug 26, 2014, 5:01 PM EDT
NBC Sports Group begins its 2015 NASCAR race coverage on July 4th (Nationwide) and 5th (Sprint Cup) from Daytona International Speedway.
Aug 26, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
The big moment is almost here. Click this post for stream links to today’s special edition of NASCAR AMERICA – featuring the announcement of the 2015 NASCAR schedule!
Aug 26, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT
It’s the first of a planned four-book series that’s designed to help kids be more self-confident and make good choices.
Aug 26, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
Notes and numbers to keep in mind as NASCAR sets up shop in Atlanta this weekend.
Aug 26, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
The new Lamborghini Huracán LP 620-2 Super Trofeo has been officially revealed in the last week, and will race in the single-make Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo series.
Aug 26, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
Hamilton also vows that he won’t be out for revenge against Rosberg at the upcoming Italian Grand Prix.
Aug 26, 2014, 12:13 PM EDT
With 35th win, Scott Dixon ties Bobby Unser on the all-time win list.
Aug 26, 2014, 11:46 AM EDT
We should know within the next few weeks whether Cosworth’s intentions to align with an OEM will become a reality for IndyCar. Meanwhile, there’s plenty coming from the company.
Aug 26, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT
Dutch media peg Giedo van der Garde as close to a 2015 race seat with Sauber.
Aug 26, 2014, 10:34 AM EDT
Wide guest list to join tonight’s one-hour NASCAR AMERICA, as the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule is revealed.
Aug 26, 2014, 10:23 AM EDT
Len Terry was behind the success of the Lotus 38 that won Indianapolis with Jim Clark.
Aug 25, 2014, 8:32 PM EDT
With two regular season races left, the pressure’s building for those drivers without a win and are outside of the Chase Grid.
Aug 25, 2014, 8:14 PM EDT
After Saturday’s radio altercation between Busch and crew chief Dave Rogers, NASCAR AMERICA’s Frank Stoddard wonders if their boss needs to take a harder line against his talented but sometimes mercurial driver.
Video from NASCAR America
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