Hendrick Motorsports, National Guard disagree on contract length

Aug 3, 2014; Long Pond, PA, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88) is sprayed by his crew members as he stands on his car on victory lane and celebrates winning the GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

“Houston, we have a problem.” Or maybe in this case, it should be, “Guard, we have a problem.” The National Guard plans to pull out of the business of motorsport sponsorship at the end of the year, ending relationships with the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team of 11-times-running NASCAR Most Popular Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Graham Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing of the Verizon IndyCar Series. Or at least several published reports have the Guard pulling out at year’s end.

That may be a problem, at least when it comes to the NASCAR relationship with the Hendrick organization. According to team owner Rick Hendrick, the National Guard’s sponsorship contract with his organization goes through the end of 2015, not 2014. Besides, Hendrick claims representatives from the Guard haven’t said anything to him about ending the relationship.

“We have not been approached by the Guard about potential changes and plan to honor our current agreement,” a recent statement from Hendrick Motorsports read.

That’s where the National Guard and Hendrick Motorsports disagree. According to a statement released by the National Guard, the contracts it has with both Hendrick Motorsports and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing are “set to expire at the end of the current season.”

Meanwhile, Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, released a statement on the matter, claiming that he leearned of the decision made by the Guard on Wednesday.

As far as Hendrick not hearing anything about it, is he just sticking his head in the sand, refusing to face the fact that he’s losing a major sponsor? And who’s right when it comes to the length of the current contract? Right now, it looks like a game of “he said, she said.” But there’s a contract somewhere, and somewhere on said contract, there’s an expiration date.

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