The National Guard will be leaving the No. 88 Chevrolet SS of Dale Earnhardt Jr. An exact date for the departure of the sponsor is unclear.
Hendrick Motorsports says that they have contracts with the National Guard to which will extend sponsorship beyond 2015 even though the National Guard says that sponsorship of Earnhardt Jr. and IndyCar driver Graham Rahal will end at the end of this season.
“Our team has a contract in place to continue the National Guard program at its current level in 2015,” the HMS statement said. “We have not been approached by the Guard about potential changes and plan to honor our current agreement.”
The Guard’s acting director, Maj. Gen. Judd H. Lyons, said “significantly constrained resources and the likelihood of further reductions in the future call for more innovative and cost-effective ways of doing business.”
A total of $32 million was spent by the Guard this year to sponsor Earnhardt. They appear as the primary sponsor of the No. 88 car for 20 races this year after first appearing on his car in 2008. Another $12 million has been spent on sponsorship of Rahal this season.
“We were informed this afternoon that the National Guard will end all sponsorship of motorsports, including both IndyCar and NASCAR at the conclusion of the 2014 seasons,” Rahal said in a release. “This is obviously very disappointing news to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing given the significant incremental brand exposure we have worked to produce for the National Guard in our first season together, including various off-track marketing and advertising programs focused on supporting the mission set forth.”
Over the past few years there has been a lot of debate in congress about the sponsorship of motorsports by the military.
An 11-time most popular driver, Earnhardt Jr. has won three races this season beginning with the season opening Daytona 500 and then a sweep of the two races at Pocono.