Skip to content

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.

Latest Posts
  1. With three races left, who could still win in IndyCar, season 2015?

    Jul 29, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    WhoCouldWin Getty Images

    There’s still a good seven to 10 high-quality drivers without a win in IndyCar, 2015, who could add to the list of winners.

  2. Marcos Ambrose looks to salvage lost season in V8 Supercars, has had no issues ‘moving on’ from NASCAR

    Jul 28, 2015, 8:50 PM EDT

    marcos ambrose 2015 Getty Images

    Even though it has been pretty much of a lost season for him in Australia’s V8 Supercars series, Marcos Ambrose believes he can still find some success before the racing year is over.

  3. Fast Facts: Honda Indy 200

    Jul 28, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio - Day 3 Getty Images

    Fast facts heading into this weekend’s Honda Indy 200, courtesy of IndyCar PR staff.

  4. NHRA: Big changes coming to Pro Stock this weekend, next season

    Jul 28, 2015, 2:50 PM EDT

    pro stock bandimere 2015 getty Getty Images

    To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of the demise of NHRA’s Pro Stock class have been greatly exaggerated.

  5. Simon Pagenaud the moving man, in Penske Truck Rental truck at Brickyard (VIDEO)

    Jul 28, 2015, 12:31 PM EDT

    PagPenskeBY400 Getty Images

    Simon Pagenaud swaps firesuit for street clothes when driving the Penske Truck Rental truck, playing “mover” this weekend.

  6. Austin Cindric’s whirlwind 2015 takes him back to PWC at Mid-Ohio, now in a Lamborghini

    Jul 28, 2015, 11:38 AM EDT

    Photo: IMSA Photo: IMSA

    The latest car for Austin Cindric is a Lamborghini at Mid-Ohio this weekend.

  7. Report: Alex Zanardi keen to make Indianapolis 500 debut

    Jul 28, 2015, 11:23 AM EDT

    Indianapolis 500 Getty Images

    Zanardi still wants to race the Indy 500, if possible.

  8. Singapore announces track changes ahead of Grand Prix

    Jul 28, 2015, 11:04 AM EDT

    SingaporeTrack Getty Images

    Singapore Grand Prix circuit to adjust Turns 11 to 13.

  9. INDYCAR, IMS add Sherwin-Williams as an official partner

    Jul 28, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    Indy500start15 Getty Images

    Sherwin-Williams joins the Hulman Motorsports family as Official Paint and Finishing Partner.

  10. Ten with Townsend: Milwaukee and Iowa debrief

    Jul 28, 2015, 9:55 AM EDT

    FullSizeRender-2

    We check in with NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell for latest “Ten with Townsend” insights, post the Iowa race and heading into Mid-Ohio.

  11. Ricciardo’s first podium in ages comes, like Bourdais’ at Toronto, with a trophy drop

    Jul 27, 2015, 4:51 PM EDT

    RIChunpodium Getty Images

    Good news, Ricciardo made the podium. Bad news, his trophy didn’t survive it.

  12. INDYCAR rescinds minor penalty against Jakes issued at Iowa

    Jul 27, 2015, 4:09 PM EDT

    JakesIowa Getty Images

    Jakes kept his visor down after all on a pit stop in Iowa.

  13. Gabby Chaves’ Honda/HPD Midget adventure (VIDEO)

    Jul 27, 2015, 3:13 PM EDT

    GabbyHeadshot Getty Images

    A quick look back at Chaves’ short track debut.

  14. Fiancee battle: Graham Rahal vs. Courtney Force in a Sonoma skills challenge (VIDEO)

    Jul 27, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    GRcf Getty Images

    Rahal and Force compete against each other in a series of fun challenges at Sonoma.

  15. For Dixon, it’s likely Mid-Ohio or bust in terms of 2015 IndyCar title hopes

    Jul 27, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio - Day 3 Getty Images

    If another Dixon Mid-Ohio win happens, it will save his championship chances.

  16. After blowing his chance to cut the gap to Hamilton, Rosberg must now avoid the mistakes of last summer

    Jul 27, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's German driver Nico Rosberg walks down the pits during the third practice session at the Hungaroring circuit near Budapest on July 25, 2015, ahead of the  Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Luke Smith considers the fall-out of a dramatic Hungarian Grand Prix that saw both Mercedes drivers miss an opportunity to seize control of the drivers’ championship.

  17. Booth proud of Manor for honoring Bianchi in Hungary

    Jul 27, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Manor Marussia F1 team driver Great Britain's Will Stevens has "#JB17" written on his car in tribute to late French Formula One driver Jules Bianchi who died nine months after his crash in the Japan Grand Prix, as he competes during the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix at the Hungaroring circuit  near Budapest on July 26, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Manor makes it through a difficult weekend by getting both of its cars to the finish in Hungary.