Dale Earnhardt Jr. In Desperate Times?

Why the popular driver may need help from his fans more than ever.

Josh Helmuthby Josh Helmuth

Ever dream of having your name on your favorite racer's car? Now's your chance.

According to a recent Sporting News article, the most popular man in all of NASCAR needs sponsorship for over a dozen races this upcoming season.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. still has 13 races that are not sponsored for 2013, but team owner Rick Hendrick doesn’t seem all that worried.EE

Pepsi, through its Diet Mt. Dew and Amp brands, has reduced its sponsorship from 20 races to five for 2013. The National Guard has increased its sponsorship from 16 races to 20.

With 25 races of announced sponsorship, that leaves 13 unsponsored races when taking into account the two non-points events.

Hendrick, a millionaire through his extensive automobile dealerships, preached patience, stability and value as he tries to land a sponsor.

“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 Wednesday during the Sprint Media Tour. “I’m looking for the right deal, not any deal. If I wanted any deal, I would put ‘Hendrick cars’ on it. … I have no worries about that car having a full deal come the end of the year.”

Earnhardt, a 10-time most popular driver, has made the Chase for the Sprint Cup the last two years — finishing seventh in 2011 and then 12th after missing two Chase races because of concussions in 2012 — but has just one victory over the last four seasons and two over the last six.

Earnhardt is signed with Hendrick through 2017 in a contract believed to make him one of the highest paid drivers in the sport. He said his salary is not dependent on sponsorship and he doesn’t worry about any ripple effects if his car goes unsponsored.

“I don’t think it will have any affect on our team one way or the other,” Earnhardt said. “Obviously, there will be somewhere in the chain, some resource will have to be affected in some way, shape or form.

“The more resources we have, the more opportunities we have, the better we feel we can be successful as a team. So we want to definitely fill that void and not have to make any sacrifices.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. still needs sponsorship for 13 races in 2013.

Hendrick said the problem is finding a company that would like to sponsor a third of the season. He said he has had offers for the full season but that is not available, and some potential sponsors ended up falling through because of conflicts with current Hendrick sponsors.

The National Guard’s budget last year for a 16-race sponsorship, plus activation (the cost of displays and advertising), was $26.5 million last year.

Of course, this kind of help will need to come from a few fans that have some serious dough — or if they don't they could at least help with leads that would reel in big-time sponsors. But it's obvious that if Jr. doesn't find some serious sponsorship soon, his team and performance will only suffer.

Josh Helmuth is the editor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JHelmuth or subscribe at Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.

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