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NASCAR: Dale Earnhardt Jr. reacts to loss of National Guard sponsorship

Aug 8, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

Dale Earnhardt Jr. AP

Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s emergence as a threat for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship was not enough to prevent the National Guard from announcing that it would drop its sponsorships of both him and IndyCar driver Graham Rahal at the end of the year.

Today at Watkins Glen, Earnhardt said that he didn’t really have any details on the matter: “That’s between the Guard and (Hendrick Motorsports) to sort all that out,” he said.

“Really enjoyed working with them over the last seven years and hope to be able to continue to represent them. It’s a huge honor.’’

In a statement released Wednesday night, HMS said that it had a contract in place with the Guard through 2015 while adding that it hadn’t been approached by the Guard about future changes to that pact.

HMS and Earnhardt have enjoyed the backing of the Guard since the 2008 season, when Earnhardt moved to the team from Dale Earnhardt Inc.

With the Guard’s departure, HMS now has to sell the 20 races that it covered on Earnhardt’s No. 88 car; right now, Nationwide Insurance (12 races), PepsiCo (five races), and Kelley Blue Book (one race) are set to be featured on the car in 2015.

The Guard’s acting director, Maj. Gen. Judd H. Lyons said in a Wednesday statement that “significantly constrained resources and the likelihood of further reductions in the future” helped lead to the decision to abandon its motorsports sponsorships.

This year, the Guard is spending more than $40 million on the combined programs for Earnhardt and Rahal (Earnhardt’s drew $32 million, while Rahal’s drew $12 million).

In additional comments, Earnhardt acknowledged the ongoing debate over military sponsorship in sports but insisted that the Guard’s program has been “very, very effective” in regards to recruiting and brand awareness.

The Guard’s decision to leave motorsports has drawn mixed reactions from fans and also from politicians on Capitol Hill.

In a statement, Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.) – who questioned the value of the Guard’s sports marketing efforts in a Senate subcommittee meeting in May – said that while she loved NASCAR and the Guard, “spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on a recruitment program that signed up zero recruits, and that has been abandoned by other service branches as ineffective, just makes no sense.”

On the other side, Sen. Kay Hagan (N.C.) relayed her disappointment and defended the Guard’s NASCAR program.

“…With a strong fan base of 77 million men and women, this partnership with NASCAR has resulted in significant exposure for the Army National Guard that has strengthened recruitment and retention,” she said in a statement.

  1. pitpenguinsrulez - Aug 8, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    Zero recruits is such a crock. They complain about spending $40 million plus towards Nascar but have no problem spending elsewhere. Such BS.

    • gsuburban - Aug 31, 2014 at 1:57 PM

      This year, the Guard is spending more than $40 million. I doubt there’s any benefit to the National Guard that could justify this “public spending”. True, the USA spends like drunken sailors but most of that spending is under the covers !

      It’s the same ordeal with U.S. Postal Service and other monopolies funded by tax dollars. I hate it…taxed dollars isn’t the same as private enterprise hard earned dollars. I can’t fathom the employee’s with the Government trying to attend all the events and ride the entertainment circle when they don’t create, innovate and so forth like private businesses do. Completely bogus thinking.

  2. techmeister1 - Aug 8, 2014 at 9:27 PM

    It’s all politics. SOS, DD.

  3. HarryNutz-AG- - Aug 8, 2014 at 10:30 PM

    Hey now they take that $40 million and spend it on something useful… like giving themselves a raise so they can afford to get that new addition put on their already million dollar homes. Must be nice being a politician living high on the hog with AAA+ insurance while us peons struggle just to make enough to keep a coach roach infested roof over our heads and a $1 box of Walmart spaghetti in the cupboard.

    • gsuburban - Aug 31, 2014 at 2:03 PM

      Insurance companies shouldn’t be allowed to advertise big on NASCAR and other sport events. Why? They are spending large and that money is mostly the “insureds premium dollars” which is supposed to be used to provide the product, not spend large while we fund all of the CEO’s and Vice Presidents who are gobbling five star drink and food in the box suites with their families. It’s not reasonable as there are perks and benefits to those who approve spending huge tens of millions annually. Completely different than spending on magazine ads where the CEO’s get nothing in return personally.

  4. jimhudson78666 - Aug 9, 2014 at 12:57 AM

    About time the Military quit wasting tax payers Millions on Super Rich Nonsense like Auto Racing! Maybe the money can be spent on Veterans where its so badly needed!

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