The economic pinch continues to be a factor in NASCAR after reports surfaced this week that Red Bull plans to end the sponsorship of its two cars at the end of the season. The move would impact the No. 4 team of Kasey Kahne and the No. 83 team of Brian Vickers.
It leaves Vickers with far greater uncertainty because Kahne, now in his eighth full-time Cup season, will join Hendrick Motorsports next season. Vickers is in the final year of his contract.
The Red Bull team has struggled since joining the NASCAR circuit in 2007.
"Red Bull Racing Team is currently seeking outside investors as we evaluate next steps in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series," company officials said in a statement. "We are not at liberty to comment on details while negotiations are under way.
"Red Bull fully supports NASCAR for the remainder of the 2011 season as we fight for victories and a position in the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup."
Sponsorship beef: Should the government spend millions to sponsor NASCAR race teams? Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) thinks not, and she is renewing her efforts to slash Pentagon spending for NASCAR and other sports sponsorships.
McCollum takes issue with the U.S. military spending hundreds of millions of dollars on sponsorship deals for sports when the nation is running large deficits. Supporters say those sponsorships helps with recruitment efforts.
The Army and National Guard have sponsorship deals with NASCAR. Ryan Newman drives the No. 39 U.S. Army/Bud Moore Chevy for Stewart-Haas Racing. Dale Earnhardt Jr. drives the National Guard No. 88 for Hendrick Motorsports. The National Guard spent $20 million in 2010 for Earnhardt's sponsorship, coupled with a sponsorship involving Jeff Gordon's No. 24 car.
Some of that promotional clout was evident last weekend, when Newman's car featured a paint scheme highlighting the Army's birthday. It also included a photo of Moore as a teenage soldier on the rear-quarter panel. Moore, 86, received two Bronze Stars and five Purple Hearts for his valor as a machine gunner during the D-Day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.
— George Diaz