National Guard Leaving NASCAR, IndyCar

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Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s National Guard sponsorship, which began in 2008, ends after this season. (HHP/Rusty Jarrett photo)
Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s National Guard sponsorship, which began in 2008, ends after this season. (HHP/Rusty Jarrett photo)
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s National Guard sponsorship, which began in 2008, ends after this season. (HHP/Rusty Jarrett photo)

The Army National Guard will cut ties with its NASCAR Sprint Cup and Verizon IndyCar Series partners at the end of the 2014 season due to budget constraints, the Guard announced on Wednesday.

The component has sponsored third-generation NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. since 2008, and second-generation IndyCar driver Graham Rahal since the beginning of the year.

Its motorsports sponsorships date back more than a decade.

The Guard’s budget for racing sponsorship exceeded $40 million this year, the announcement said. The National Guard spent $32 million on sponsorship for Earnhardt, and $12 million for Rahal.

Earnhardt, a fan favorite and one of NASCAR’s most successful drivers this season with three wins, now has a major opening for sponsorship. The announcement comes just three days after Earnhardt scored his third victory of the season at Pocono Raceway.

Nationwide Insurance signed on as Earnhardt’s primary sponsor for 12 races in 2015 and 13 in 2016-17, and PepsiCo will return for an additional number of races under its Diet Mountain Dew brand.

Graham Rahal finished second during Saturday's first race of the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit, his best finish of the year. (Al Steinberg Photo)
Graham Rahal finished second during the first race of the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit, his best finish of the year. (Al Steinberg Photo)

An internal review, according to the Military Times, sparked the change in direction.

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