Dale Jr.: No cause for concern about sponsorship

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Despite a sizable chunk of his 2013 campaign still missing sponsorship, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is choosing not to fret over the situation.

According to the Sporting News, Hendrick Motorsports has about a dozen races with NASCAR’s most popular driver left to sell this season after PepsiCo’s decision to scale back its sponsorship plan from 20 races to five races with Diet Mountain Dew.

But Earnhardt feels that there’s no cause for concern.

“Anybody who has got any sense about how the corporate world works knows that it’s too late into the season, too late in the year to expect to put together a package for the rest of the season that is going to turn into a multi-year deal,” he said on Friday. “It’s just all the dollars and cents are accounted for at this point in the year.

“That doesn’t mean we can’t put some things together and do some creative stuff with some people and some partners that we already have or whatever…It is important to try to fill out what we have this season and we will. I don’t have any doubt at all that we will get that done.

“I think we almost have to look forward beyond that to try to find out who is going to be the partner that we can put a long term deal together that matches up with what we want to do in the future.”

While that situation continues to evolve, Earnhardt is aiming to get himself squared away for the upcoming Chase. He sits a steady fifth in the standings and is in position to easily make NASCAR’s post-season run.

The Brickyard has not been a strong track for him in his Cup career; he has just one Top-5 finish in 13 starts there. On the other hand, that Top-5 run came in last year’s race, in which he finished fourth.

As for tomorrow’s 20th anniversary running of the Brickyard 400, he’s slated to go off from 15th.

“We would have liked to run a little bit better than that,” he said after his qualifying run today. “The guys did a good job. They made a lot of changes during practice…We just struggled all day in qualifying trim and the guys made some good changes.

“We like the speed in race trim. We’ll have to go back to the hauler and talk a lot about the things we can do.”

Lewis Hamilton comes home to Mercedes factory after fourth title

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On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.

And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.

Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.

The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.

“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.

“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.

“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”

A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.