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.
McLaren seeks big improvements in Barcelona after challenging tests, progression in first four races
May 6, 2015, 4:45 PM EDT
McLaren looks for more in Barcelona.
May 6, 2015, 3:47 PM EDT
Monaco gets a tune-up weekend with FIA Formula E this weekend, and most of the field has past track experience.
May 6, 2015, 3:31 PM EDT
The NHRA said Wednesday that the Kansas Nationals will go on as scheduled, May 22-24, despite the Topeka City Council voting Tuesday against the purchase of Heartland Park Topeka.
May 6, 2015, 2:05 PM EDT
Update to various engines for manufacturer points.
May 6, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT
Same brew. New livery.
May 6, 2015, 12:37 PM EDT
Stefano Coletti returns to a track he won at nearly a decade ago, a rare track he knows in his rookie IndyCar season.
May 6, 2015, 10:56 AM EDT
Carlos Huertas set for return at Dale Coyne Racing for this weekend’s Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
May 6, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT
After a decent start on pace, Simon Pagenaud looks for results to match to kick off the month of May.
May 6, 2015, 9:25 AM EDT
McLaren’s new darker graphite grey livery is unveiled.
May 6, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
MotorSportsTalk’s Tony DiZinno speaks to Indianapolis Motor Speedway president J. Douglas Boles for an overview on the present plans and the future outlook as IMS rolls into the 2015 Month of May and ahead into 2016.
May 6, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Fast facts heading into this weekend’s Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, courtesy of IndyCar PR staff.
May 5, 2015, 9:31 PM EDT
If it has four wheels, Bryan Clauson has likely raced it in his career.
May 5, 2015, 7:49 PM EDT
Without a full-time ride for this season, Justin Wilson is happy to be back in a race car and to have a ride for at least the next two races.
May 5, 2015, 6:02 PM EDT
Helio Castroneves hopes to enjoy the appetizer this weekend and then sink his teeth into the main course two weeks later.
May 5, 2015, 3:19 PM EDT
AJ Foyt’s No. 48 Honda-powered Dallara will have history written all over it in this year’s Indianapolis 500.
May 5, 2015, 2:03 PM EDT
At a time when many people would be embracing retirement, legendary NHRA drag racer John Force just keeps motoring along.
May 4, 2015, 5:18 PM EDT
Road America invests millions into some track upgrades for 2015.
May 4, 2015, 2:18 PM EDT
Nastia Liukin named grand marshal for this year’s Indianapolis 500.
May 4, 2015, 1:33 PM EDT
Videos from the debut of the new Ligier JS P2 Hondas for Tequila Patron ESM at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend.
May 4, 2015, 11:41 AM EDT
Mann gets back to work behind the wheel and has a very good first day of running at IMS.
- NHRA to go ahead with Topeka race May 22-24, despite City Council vote against racetrack purchase 1
- New McLaren Honda livery revealed 1
- Q&A: IMS President Doug Boles heading into 2015 Month of May, 2016 planning 0
- Indiana native Bryan Clauson ready for special Indy 500 return 5
- On eve of 300th IndyCar start, Helio Castroneves eyes record-tying fourth Indy 500 win 3
- Alex Tagliani to drive 3rd AJ Foyt car in Indy 500, will pay tribute to Dan Gurney 3
- NHRA legend John Force turns 66, not slowing down any time soon 2