CONCORD Tony Stewart isn’t the only NASCAR star with sponsorship problems.
Hendrick Motorsports confirmed Wednesday there are 13 unsold Sprint Cup Series races on the No. 88 Chevrolet driven by NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“We’ve got a lot of good opportunities and the way we’re positioned, our car is covered until the end of the summer,” Hendrick said on Day 3 of the Sprint NASCAR Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“I’m looking for the right deal, not any deal. If I wanted any deal, I would put ‘Hendrick cars (.com)’ on it. … I have no worries about that car having a full deal come the end of the year.”
Hendrick said he has had companies interested in sponsoring Earnhardt’s car for the entire season but that would conflict with current contracts.
“The more resources we have, the more opportunities we have, the better we feel we can be successful as a team,” Earnhardt said. “So we want to definitely fill that void and not have to make any sacrifices.”
On Monday, Stewart said he had an estimated 20 races unsponsored among his Cup teams for himself, Ryan Newman and Danica Patrick.
One team did add sponsorship Wednesday. Earnhardt Ganassi Racing announced Cessna Aircraft Co. would sponsor multiple Cup races this season for the No. 1 Chevrolet team driven by Jamie McMurray.
Martin’s lofty goal: Mark Martin has a long-range goal in mind with Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 55 Toyota team.
“I want to help (crew chief Rodney Childers) making the No. 55 team a very, very sought-after ride in 2014,” Martin said Tuesday during the NASCAR Media Tour.
“It’s not about anything personal for me – now I’ll take a trophy if I can get one, don’t get me wrong – but it’s really important to me to make that a sought-after ride.
“Rodney Childers is an amazing crew chief and I want to see him get to run for a championship.”
Martin doesn’t have a deal with MWR beyond this season.
He said it was far too soon to talk about plans beyond 2013. “I’ll still be around,” he said. “No need to worry about what’s next.”
Wheeler receives honor: The Living Legends of Auto Racing will present Humpy Wheeler with its Pioneer of Racing Award during a ceremony Feb. 20 at Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach Shores, Fla.
The award is given annually to the person who has done the most in promoting auto racing.
Wheeler, currently president of the Wheeler Co., was the longtime track president of Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Smith launches campaign: Add Speedway Motorsports chairman Bruton Smith to those who would like to see an end to the practice of start-and-park racing in NASCAR – a term which refers to teams that run a handful of laps and park just to collect a portion of the race purse.
“Start-and-park should not be a part of what we do,” Smith said. “I think it’s derogatory toward our sport. I’m going to try my best … to see if NASCAR can do something about this. It certainly isn’t adding anything to our sport, and it certainly takes away.”