The National Guard drops Dale Earnhardt Jr. sponsorship amid objections from Hendrick Motorsports


Dale Earnhardt Jr. in military regalia. (Darron Cummings/AP)

The National Guard ended its sponsorship deal with NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. but that might be easier said than done. The Army Guard noted in a news release that the contract with the Hendrick Motorsports driver would expire at the end of the 2014 season, however HMS officials think otherwise.

“We have not been approached by the Guard about potential changes and plan to honor our current agreement,” the HMS statement says (via SportingNews.com). “Our team has a contract in place to continue the National Guard program at its current level in 2015.”

The National Guard has spent $32 million since 2008 on the Earnhardt sponsorship, is now facing budgetary constraints, which will cut its marketing monies in half in Fiscal Year 2015 compared with FY 2012, according to a National Guard news release.

“We are aware of the Hendricks Motorsports conflict,” National Guard spokesperson Capt. John Fesler told The Washington Post. He indicated that the Army Guard was addressing it, but had no further comment regarding the details.

“Significantly constrained resources and the likelihood of further reductions in the future call for more innovative and cost-effective ways of doing business,” acting Director of the National Guard Maj. Gen. Judd H. Lyons said.

The Army Guard said the NASCAR sponsorship with Earnhardt helped it reach 77 million NASCAR fans.

In addition to ending its deal with NASCAR, the National Guard also decided to end its sponsorship with IndyCar driver Graham Rahal, as well as sponsorship deals with six other sports, including professional fishing and motorcycle racing, according to the press release.

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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Marissa Payne · August 7

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