Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Sports

July 27, 2013

Earnhardt still in the market for primary sponsor

Hendrick driver seeking sponsor for 12 races yet this season.

(Continued)

It’s not like he doesn’t have options. Earnhardt is one of the superstar faces of NASCAR. Even as the wins have dried up, he was still voted NASCAR’s most popular driver for each of the last 10 years. Owner Rick Hendrick isn’t interested in sponsors looking to work their way in for a race or two, or the kind of companies that would conflict with his corporate image.

Earnhardt was set to drive an unsponsored race at Daytona until Hendrick put the National Guard on the No. 88. He’ll use the National Guard again for Sunday’s race at Indy.

Another reason he can be picky: The sponsorship he does have on the 88 is so lucrative that he has one of the highest-funded cars in the garage even with available inventory.

He’s also kept an eye on sponsorship for his Nationwide Series program competing under the JR Motorsports banner. Great Clips signed on as primary sponsor for 28 races this season. Great Clips and Hendrick on Friday announced a three-year extension through 2016 that bumped its primary sponsorship from three Cup races a season to 10 for Kasey Kahne’s No. 5 Chevrolet. Great Clips also will serve as a major associate sponsor.

Great Clips will be on Kahne’s car this weekend in Indianapolis and again for the Sept. 22 race at New Hampshire.

“They continue to see a great return on investment, and we’re focused on continuing that trend by performing at a high level on the racetrack while delivering business wins,” Hendrick said.

Earnhardt, though, said he didn’t know how Great Clips’ increase would affect its future relationship with his Nationwide program. He seems just as confident that he’ll find the right sponsors.

“We have some potential to have some really interesting things announced down the road with that,” he said. “Due to how well we’ve run this year and how we’ve been able to turn that program around, we definitely caught the eyes of a few sponsors and potential partners. So, we’re looking a lot better on that front, too. I think everything is going to be fine. I don’t believe anybody needs to be too concerned at this point.”

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