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NASCAR: Dale Earnhardt Jr. calls working with National Guard ‘a huge honor’

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/08/20/14/1qOYVO.Em.138.jpeg|410
    Mel Evans - AP
    The National Guard’s sponsorship of Dale Earnhardt Jr. will soon come to an end.
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    Darron Cummings - AP
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. takes a selfie of himself and IndyCar driver Graham Rahal during a visit with Indiana National Guard troops at Camp Atterbury in Edinburgh, Ind. The National Guard is ending its sponsorship of both NASCAR’s most popular driver and one of the most recognizable names in IndyCar. It’s not clear when the Guard is leaving motorsports. It said in a statement on its website that its contracts to sponsor Earnhardt and Rahal run through the end of the year.

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he didn’t have any details on the Army National Guard’s decision this week to discontinue sponsorship of his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet next season.

“That’s been the Guard and HMS 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.”

Earnhardt spoke briefly Friday morning before Cup practice at Watkins Glen International about the Guard’s decision, which was announced Wednesday night.

In a statement, Hendrick Motorsports said it had an agreement in place for the 2015 season, which it planned to honor.

Asked if he had any indication this decision was imminent, Earnhardt said: “There’s been the debate in Washington, and I’ve been watching it for several years. Hopefully, we’ll be able to continue to represent them.

“I really have enjoyed it. It’s been a great partnership. I think it’s been very effective and hopefully we’ll continue to do that.”

The Guard said it was spending $32 million on its NASCAR sponsorship this season.

Elliott likely to run Cup races in 2015: Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott, the son of NASCAR veteran Bill Elliott, is likely to run a handful of Cup series races next season, Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said.

“We haven’t arrived at a decision for sure, but I think you’ll probably see him run a few (Cup) races next year,” Hendrick told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio this week.

“Before he ever won a Nationwide race, I watched him test Jimmie (Johnson’s) car and Jeff (Gordon’s) car at Nashville, and Jimmie and Jeff commented to me, ‘This kid is super smooth and super fast. He takes care of his equipment, and he doesn’t get in a jam.’ 

Elliott drives the No. 9 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series and is expected to do so again in 2015.

JGR won’t appeal Hamlin penalty: Joe Gibbs Racing has elected not to appeal the penalty levied against Denny Hamlin’s team for failing a postrace inspection at Indianapolis Motor Speedway two weeks ago.

Crew chief Darian Grubb was suspended six weeks and fined $125,000, and car chief Wesley Sherrill was suspended six weeks. Hamlin and Joe Gibbs were each docked 75 driver and car owner points.

Grubb and Sherrill began their suspensions last weekend at Pocono.

Wallace inducted into Hall: Earlier this week, former NASCAR driver Rusty Wallace was one of seven men inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

The Hall of Fame, based in a suburb northwest of Detroit, will move to Daytona Beach, Fla., in 2016.

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