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Hendrick: Earnhardt could get new sponsor

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Jun 18 2013 09:31:50 AM CDT
Racing generic, winners flag

Caren Firouz/Reuters

Rick Hendrick told Fox Sports that he is close to announcing a new sponsor for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his No. 88 NASCAR Sprint Cup team.

The announcement could come prior to the July 8 race at Daytona International Speedway.

"We're very close," Hendrick said. "Again, we've had lots of interest. But we've got something real nice that fits well. You've got to remember, too, I've got a lot of sponsors -- so there's a lot of conflicts. I've had many deals I could take but it would have conflicted with my other guys. I think this will be a pretty neat deal when we get to announce it. It's never done 'til it's done, but I think we're in good shape."

Corporate sponsorships have been declining in recent years due to the economic downturn that started in 2008, but Hendrick believes a recovery is coming. He pointed to Kasey Kahne sponsor Great Clips extending its support. It may reportedly even expand its involvement to 10 races next year.

"There haven't been a lot of new sponsors in the sport," Hendrick said. "It's just been because of the economy and how people go to market and a combination of a lot of things. But there's always been a lot of interest in him. There's some of our sponsors expanding again so that's great. When you look at our numbers compared to basketball and some of the other sports, I think we're in pretty good shape. The races are good; I feel good about it."

An amendment proposed by Rep. Betty McCollum to prohibit government spending on sponsorships in NASCAR and pro wrestling was defeated. If it passed, it would have prevented the National Guard from continuing its sponsorship of NASCAR, IndyCar racing and World Wrestling Entertainment.

That affects Hendrick as the National Guard increased its involvement with his Sprint Cup program from 18 to 20 races this year.

"It was a big win," Hendrick said. "It's really a statement about how the Guard feels about the sport, what it does about their recruiting."