It looks like Dale Earnhardt Jr and Graham Rahal are losing the National Guard as their sponsors according to several reports. The National Guard has been sponsoring both drivers with much success over the years and I could argue that it's possibly been one of the most successful contracts the military has ever been involved in!
Millions of race fans, not only Jr Nation, instantly think of the National Guard when talking about Earnhardt. Both drivers have become symbols of the Guard with the familiar paint schemes and logos splashed across TV screens, newspapers, mobile devices, and other media outlets every time they win a race.
The National Guard has been with Earnhardt since 2008, when he joined Hendrick Motorsports. It's horrible timing for the announcement from the guard as they are cutting ties with NASCAR's most popular driver. Earnhardt has won three races this year and is second in points in the Sprint Cup standings.
Bobby Rahal said it was a disappointment to hear the news. This is understandable considering how much time and effort the two race teams have put in to support the National Guard, it's mission, servicemen, and their families. The co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing said he learned of the guard's decision on Wednesday.
It was obvious the team owner was not too happy about the news as "given the significant incremental brand exposure we have worked to produce for the National Guard in our first season together," Rahal said, "Including various off-track marketing and advertising programs focused on supporting the mission set forth."
In a statement posted on the National Guard web site the guard says it spent $32 million on its NASCAR sponsorship and $12 million on its IndyCar sponsorship this year. The same statement also gave credit to the success of the sponsorships "sports sponsorships have played an important role in helping the guard build strong brand awareness."