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 5, 2015, 6:07 AM EDT
Hamilton leads the way from Vettel and Rosberg in final practice at Monza.
Sep 5, 2015, 4:45 AM EDT
Lewis Hamilton bids to complete a clean sweep of practice sessions on Saturday morning at Monza.
Sep 4, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
Gasly storms to pole ahead of Mitch Evans and Stoffel Vandoorne as American driver Alexander Rossi struggles to P10 on the grid.
Sep 4, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT
Ecclestone backs Vettel to win a fifth world championship during his time with Ferrari.
Sep 4, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT
After being the enemy for the Ferrari fans in the past at Monza, Vettel will now carry their hopes of a home win on his shoulders.
Sep 4, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
Despite finishing well clear of the chasing pack on Friday in practice, Hamilton believes he can go faster still.
Sep 4, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button among those running with a sticker paying tribute to Wilson on their helmets at Monza.
Sep 4, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT
IndyCar’s season recap airs tonight at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Sep 4, 2015, 10:59 AM EDT
Will Buxton brings you the latest news, interviews and insight from the paddock ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
Sep 4, 2015, 10:26 AM EDT
F1 drivers react to idea of closed cockpits possibly being introduced down the road.
Sep 4, 2015, 10:11 AM EDT
Will Buxton and Jason Swales head to Silverstone to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the British Grand Prix in the latest episode of Off The Grid.
Sep 4, 2015, 9:58 AM EDT
First round of funeral details for Justin Wilson have been confirmed.
Sep 4, 2015, 9:31 AM EDT
Mercedes romps to another one-two finish in FP2 as the rest of the field is left trailing behind.
Sep 4, 2015, 8:45 AM EDT
Jota Sport confirms it will expand its LMP2 programme for 2016 to compete in the full WEC season.
Sep 4, 2015, 7:45 AM EDT
Lewis Hamilton will be hoping to double up in FP2 after topping first practice on Friday morning.
Sep 4, 2015, 5:31 AM EDT
Hamilton finishes half a second clear of Rosberg to top FP1 on Friday.
Sep 4, 2015, 3:45 AM EDT
The Italian GP weekend kicks off with FP1 at 4am ET on Friday.
Sep 3, 2015, 6:55 PM EDT
Here’s all the information you need to know about this weekend’s 61st annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in suburban Indianapolis:
Sep 3, 2015, 6:54 PM EDT
The biggest and most important drag race of the season takes place this weekend with the 61st Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in suburban Indianapolis.
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