National Guard Signs Extension With No. 88

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National Guard has renewed its sponsorship of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports. (HHP photo)
National Guard has renewed its sponsorship of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports. (HHP photo)

BROOKLYN, Mich. — Only weeks after Congress voted to continue to allow military branches to sponsor motorsports and other sports, the National Guard has extended its sponsorship of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports through the 2013 season.

The National Guard will be primary sponsor on Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevrolet for 20 races next season and an associate for the remainder of the season.

“I was real happy to have The Guard sign,” Earnhardt said. “I expected them to be a part of the program. We’ve had a real positive relationship, and they’ve been excited about what we’ve been able to do.

“We have some great ideas coming up that we just started implementing this past week where we are going to visit high schools, and talk to the kids and the parents, the principals, and giving The Guard the opportunity to have more access at that level. We are doing some good things.

“That was a lot of fun. That was the first time I had been to a high school and talked to a group like that. I enjoyed that. I think it is good for our team, and good for the sport. We’re excited they are ready to be onboard for the next season.”

Earnhardt also revealed that he’s become the owner of a car dealership this week.

“Me and Rick (Hendrick) had talked about this for a long time,” Earnhardt said. “Quite a lot. Extensively. We were just waiting on the right opportunity. Dealerships are challenging and quite fickle. Depends on the market. We knew we would have an opportunity if we were patient.

“This one is kind of a turnkey deal. We are going to do a little bit of remodeling, but otherwise all the employees that are there and everything, the thing is working as designed. So we’re not going to have to go in there and turn everything upside down. It is something I’ve had an interest in doing. That was going to be my profession if I hadn’t been a race car driver I was going to work in a dealership as a mechanic or something.

“That was what I did to pay my power bill for four years, so that was what it was all about for me at one point. It was pretty weird standing in the service department talking to all my employees when I used to work in one myself. I never imagined that day would come. I am excited about it. I will be hands-on; be involved quite heavily. Through the experiences I had with my Dad owning the one in Newton, I am excited to sort of carve my own path and enjoy that same experience he enjoyed, and make it successful.”