Army drops 10-year NASCAR sponsorship

The Army has decided to drop its NASCAR sponsorship for next year amid attempts in Congress to kill all military sponsorships of sporting events. 

NASCAR's Stewart-Haas racing team announced Tuesday in a statement that the Army would not be sponsoring the car driven by Ryan Newman due to "a reallocation of its marketing budget." The Army has sponsored a NASCAR car for the past 10 years.

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The Army's decision to stop sponsoring the NASCAR team comes as two lawmakers, Reps. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), are seeking to end the military's sponsorship in NASCAR, bass fishing and other sporting events.

While McCollum was unsuccessful in her bid to do so last year, she enlisted Kingston, a Tea Party Republican, to make the case to his base this time around. Their joint amendment passed the House Appropriations Committee in May attached to the fiscal 2013 Defense Appropriations bill.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) raised a point of order against it, meaning the amendment could be stripped from the bill on procedural grounds when it goes to the floor later this month.

But McCollum and Kingston say they plan to rework the amendment so it can remain included on the defense bill — which could provide one possible explanation for the Army's decision to end its racing sponsorship before the amendment becomes law.

The amendment that passed the Appropriations Committee would have instructed the military to put its sports sponsorship dollars into other recruiting, but McKeon's point of order said this violated the jurisdiction of his committee. Instead, McCollum and Kingston said they were considering putting the money back into deficit reduction and out of the Pentagon's budget.

By moving the money ahead of time, the Army wouldn't lose the funds should that version of the amendment become law, something that is still no sure bet.

The Pentagon is also grappling with planned budget cuts of $487 billion over the next decade, and those tighter budgets could have also played a role in the decision.

NASCAR Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps said in a statement that "the Army made a budget decision that won’t allow it to return to NASCAR in 2013."

"The Army sponsorship served to connect our troops with the American public, to engage active service men and women around the world with the sport they love, and to assist with recruitment and retention. NASCAR and the military share many of the same values," he said. "NASCAR fans are twice as likely as non fans to serve in the military and 37 percent of active service members and veterans are NASCAR fans."

McCollum and Kingston argue that the sponsorships do not lead to new recruits, the rationale that the military gives about why the sponsorships are necessary.