Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 Nat'l Guard car
It seemed almost certain that the U.S. House of Representatives would nix federal spending in the form of military sponsorships in NASCAR.
After all, a House committee in a bi-partisan effort voted to ban such multi-million dollar frivolities. At the eleventh hour though, the amendment was withdrawn and spending for NASCAR sponsorships were allowed to continue.
While Dale Earnhardt, Jr. whose #88 car is sponsored by the National Guard, was a major beneficiary of the House of Representatives' change in thinking, that wasn't the case with Ryan Newman's #39 U.S. Army-sponsored race car.
Too late for Ryan Newman
Ryan Newman's #39 U.S. Army carJust a week before the final vote was taken on Capital Hill, the U.S. Army decided to withdraw sponsorship at Stewart-Haas Racing, the team that fields Newman's car, at the end of this season.
It is true that Junior's season has been the best he's had in recent years. He even won a race in June at Michigan, the first since 2008. He has shown consistency this season, evident by his being in second place in the points standings.
It is also true that even though Newman won at Martinsville in April, he has been in a slump since then.
Junior has one thing Newman will never have though--his infamous father. Dale Earnhardt has arguably been called the greatest NASCAR driver ever. He was certainly the most popular driver, which is a title his son has inherited.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has received benefits before because of his last name. He is looked upon as the golden boy. NASCAR announcers rarely miss an opportunity to sing his praises, sometimes when they are not even deserved.
Newman is the polar opposite; his achievements often go unnoticed.
I make no accusations, but it is not out of the realm of possibility that a little lobbying by NASCAR brass on Junior's behalf could have taken place just to keep him in the National Guard car. This wouldn't be the first time NASCAR has exerted favortism Junior's way.
The bottom line is that Newman is again the guy on the outside looking in--the one who has to try harder, just to achieve that equal footing. Not only is the loss of the U.S. Army as a sponsor troublesome for Newman, but the loss could be career-changing. Newman's contract is up at the end of this season. He has already been warned that if sponsorship cannot be found for next year, he may lose his ride at Stewart-Haas Racing.
There are certainly places he could go, and with his driving abilityt, he would be able to land a premier ride, but if nothing else, such uncertainty is a major distraction for someone on the border line of not making the top 12 in the NASCAR points ranking.
As a Newman fan, this is all just disheartening, especially since I know what my favorite driver is capable of. There remains plenty of time to turn it around before the Chase for the Championship is set. I can only feel for what Newman must be going through.