CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The Army National Guard has extended its sponsorship of Dale Earnhardt Jr. through the 2014 season with Hendrick Motorsports.
The Guard will be the primary sponsor of the No. 88 Chevrolet for 20 Sprint Cup races, including the Daytona 500. Hendrick Motorsports said Friday the Guard will also have prominent brand placement during all non-primary events.
''NASCAR is a critical marketing platform for the National Guard,'' said Lt. Col. Michael Wegner, marketing branch chief for the Army National Guard. ''NASCAR fans in our target demographic are twice as likely to consider the military as a career option, and the overall fan base strongly advocates for military service. It's the right place for the Guard and has helped us recruit more than 400,000 citizen soldiers since 2007.''
The guard has been partnered with NASCAR's most popular driver since he joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2008.
HMS said recent research showed 85 percent of those who enlisted or re-enlisted in the National Guard since 2007 agree that professional sports are beneficial to its overall efforts to attract and retain soldiers. A majority of respondents were exposed to recruiting or retention materials incorporating NASCAR and had seen NASCAR leveraged at a recruiting center or event.
''Sports affiliations drive engagement, and we know Citizen Soldiers are especially likely to engage with NASCAR specifically,'' team owner Rick Hendrick said. ''The guard has recognized the opportunities, and Dale Jr. has been a terrific spokesperson. We're proud to continue what's been an effective and impactful program.''
Earnhardt is a 10-time most popular driver.
''It's an incredible privilege to work with and represent the Guard,'' Earnhardt said. ''We have the opportunity to interact with those who serve our country and many who are considering military careers. I'm personally in awe of their sacrifices and feel a tremendous amount of pride in our relationship with them. The entire No. 88 team is looking forward to another season together.''
PepsiCo is committed to the No. 88 team with sponsorship of five primary races annually through the 2015 Sprint Cup season. Hendrick Motorsports said additional sponsorship will be announced at a later date.