News & Media

Notes: Earnhardt optimistic about National Guard

July 18, 2012, NASCAR Wire Service,

Notes: Army pulling out, but National Guard looks to continue sponsorship

LOUDON, N.H. -- Outspoken Brad Keselowski has a unique solution to substance abuse in sports -- just say "no" to everything.

Prompted for a reaction to Penske Racing teammate AJ Allmendinger's positive test for a prescribed substance and subsequent suspension from competition, Keselowski offered his views after Sprint Cup qualifying Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.


"It's my personal belief that nothing should be allowed -- nothing," Keselowski said. "I don't feel like you should be able to take Flintstone [vitamin] pills. It's my personal belief. I think you're race car drivers; you should have to overcome it.

"I think it's a bunch of bull that you're allowed to take supplements or any of those things. I don't think that's right. I don't think any athlete should be allowed to take that, but that's my personal beliefs."

Keselowski does believe, though, that knowing the identity of a substance that triggers a positive test matters a lot.

"I think it does matter what it was," Keselowski said. "It does to me. It might not to everybody else, but it matters to me what it was, because there's always going to be that level of uncertainty that I have over any athlete or driver that performs at these levels, and what they're taking or not taking.

"It's so difficult to give a great explanation of how I feel about it, but I think that I want to believe that any performer or athlete out there would not be dumb enough to take a drug that is against the law, illegal. It just stands to reason that, if you've made it this far in the sport, you've had the knowledge to not do anything that dumb."

Despite Keselowski's stance, however, the issue of legal supplements is complicated. Various energy drinks, such as Red Bull, Monster, 5-hour Energy and NOS, are current or former sponsors of NASCAR teams and drivers.

Keselowski's No. 2 Dodge is sponsored by Miller Lite, and the driver consumes an occasional beer as part of his promotion of the brand.

* Drivers confident in drug testing policy | Allmendinger's camp explains

Newman sorry to see Army march away

In a contract year, with Stewart-Haas Racing trying to find sponsorship for his No. 39 Chevrolet, Ryan Newman got some bad news earlier this week when the U.S. Army announced that it was ending its participation as a NASCAR sponsor.

U.S. Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) of the U.S. House of Representatives has led a crusade -- joined by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) in authoring an amendment to the pending Department of Defense authorization bill -- to end military sponsorships of sports events and properties.

Before the measure came to a vote, the Army announced it was ending its NASCAR sponsorship. Newman conceded that the Army may have tired of fighting the public relations battle.

"From what I've heard and what I've read, there were some true politics involved," Newman told the NASCAR Wire Service. "I've always been very proud to represent the Army. I learned a lot about the soldiers. I learned a lot about their education programs that we do to recruit and the recruiting process. I hope, whatever they do, it's going to be good for the Army, it's going to be good for the USA to recruit and educate and improve the quality of our soldiers.

"Their decision is their decision, and it's unfortunate for us. I was a proud representative of the name and the people and the colors and everything else. It seems that time has come and passed, and like I said, I wish them the best, but we are here to win for them this weekend [in Army colors at New Hampshire], and we'll do that each and every other time before the end of the season."

* U.S. Army to end decade of involvement in NASCAR's top series

Earnhardt upbeat about National Guard sponsorship

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is optimistic about his sponsorship relationship with the National Guard despite the U.S. Army's decision to end its association with another team, Stewart-Haas Racing, next season.

Earnhardt, in second place in the Sprint Cup standings, said Friday he was ''disappointed'' by the Army's decision announced this past Tuesday.

''I feel that our [National Guard] program is really productive,'' Earnhardt said before qualifying for Sunday's race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. ''Apparently, they don't feel like theirs was productive.''

The National Guard Association of the United States wants the Guard to continue its sponsorship with Earnhardt.

''There is an effort under way in Congress to prohibit the U.S. military from sponsoring professional motorsports as part of military recruiting,'' the association's president, retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr. said.

''On the surface, this may seem like a good idea in the face of current fiscal challenges. But a closer look reveals that such a ban would provide no real savings and only serve to hinder Defense Department efforts to reach the most qualified potential recruits.''

At his news conference on Friday, Earnhardt wore a red, white and blue cap with the words ''National Guard'' on it and a blue shirt with the same words in white capital letters.

''I feel pretty good about the relationship I have with the Guard,'' he said, ''but it was just disappointing when any company or big entity like that leaves the sport entirely.''

The Associated Press contributed to this report.