Aug 8, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT
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.
Sep 21, 2014, 10:08 AM EDT
An electrical glitch sidelines Rosberg, but Hamilton is made to fight for his second victory in Singapore after a lengthy safety car period.
Sep 21, 2014, 8:35 AM EDT
Rosberg’s championship hopes take a huge hit before a lap has even been run in Singapore.
Sep 21, 2014, 7:15 AM EDT
All of the action from Singapore as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg go head-to-head under the lights of Marina Bay.
Sep 21, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT
Red Bull gives you a unique insight into what goes on at a race team’s factory in the aftermath of a grand prix weekend.
Sep 20, 2014, 10:35 PM EDT
A wild final restart opened the door for Gaughan to out-hustle Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon late on Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.
Sep 20, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT
More than a dozen former and current IndyCar drivers take part in the special event that honors the late two-time Indy 500 champ and raises money for Alzheimer’s research.
Sep 20, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT
With seven races left in the Nationwide schedule, can Smith start making up ground on teammate Chase Elliott in the championship?
Sep 20, 2014, 7:11 PM EDT
Ganassi Riley-Ford, 8Star Motorsports, Vipers win in COTA.
Sep 20, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT
When Wendy Venturini walks into the press box at New Hampshire Motor Speedway prior to Sunday’s Sylvania 300 Sprint Cup race, she will become part of NASCAR history.
Sep 20, 2014, 6:03 PM EDT
The Red Bull GRC championship tightens dramatically after the first race of the weekend in L.A.
Sep 20, 2014, 5:42 PM EDT
Ty Dillon is bound and determined to give it his all to win the Nationwide Series championship this season. He took a big step Saturday afternoon by earning the pole for the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 later that evening at Kentucky Speedway. Sam Hornish Jr. will start on the outside of the front row.
Sep 20, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT
CLICK HERE for stream links to the first of two GRC finals this weekend from Los Angeles.
Sep 20, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
Custer holds off Darrell Wallace Jr. and Matt Crafton to win the Camping World Truck Series’ UNOH 175 at New Hampshire.
Sep 20, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
Ferrari and Red Bull could have – perhaps even should have – been in the mix for pole position. Mercedes was simply too good for them, once again, though.
Sep 20, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT
Head-to-head, there’s very few Sprint Cup drivers that can beat Jimmie Johnson. But Tyler Clary can kick Johnson’s butt any time he wants to.
Sep 20, 2014, 2:25 PM EDT
Friday recap from Red Bull GRC in LA is in the books.
Sep 20, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
“We break our balls to make a good qualifying and you lose five-tenths every single straight line because the thing cuts” – tough talk from the Frenchman.
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