Report: National Guard’s NASCAR program barely nets any new recruits

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The National Guard’s racing sponsorships were in the news earlier this year, mainly in the Verizon IndyCar Series ranks where it transferred from Panther Racing to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

But on the NASCAR side, where more dollars are spent annually and the sponsorship is higher profile with Dale Earnhardt Jr., it hasn’t necessarily generated the best return.

In a USA Today report released Wednesday, the 2012 season saw the Guard spend $26.5 million but did not sign a single new recruit. The same report said a total of $88 million has been spent over the last three years from 2011 to 2013, but couldn’t determine a number of prospects or recruits.

While the exposure remains – the report said 90 percent who enlisted or re-enlisted from 2007 to 2013 indicated that they had been exposed to information about the service through NASCAR-related recruiting and retention materials, per a National Guard spokesman – the deliverables of new signups appear to be lacking.

It’s an interesting situation, and one too where Hendrick Motorsports is working hard to cover its bases in terms of putting together other sponsorships. Nationwide Insurance was announced last week as a new primary sponsor for at least 12 Sprint Cup races for Dale Jr. starting in 2015; Mtn Dew, Kelley Blue Book and others also enjoy a prominent role with the 88 car.

MRTI: pre-season testing Day 3 notebook

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Day 3 of pre-season testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway saw the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda continue testing for the second day in a row, with each series completing three sessions on what was their final day of running.

Quick reports on both series are below.

Pro Mazda: Cunha Surges to the Front

While Saturday saw Pro Mazda newcomers like Oliver Askew, Parker Thompson, and Rinus VeeKey lead the way, Sunday saw a pair of second-year Pro Mazda drivers take their turns at the top of the speed charts. In the combined results, Juncos Racing’s Carlos Cunha turned the fastest lap of the final session, also good enough to be the outright fastest lap of the weekend, taking advantage of a fresh set of Cooper Tires to do so.

“I’m really happy, Juncos Racing is an amazing team,” Cunha said of the team’s performance. “On track, we are always improving, never going backwards and that’s very good. We have tested a lot but we still need to learn a lot about the car, though we are almost to a perfect setup. The team has given me everything I need to be comfortable inside the car, to know what the car needs, and to know what I need to be a better driver. We have time to improve and we are moving forward quickly.”

Fellow sophomore driver Sting Ray Robb, now with Team Pelfrey, was right behind Cunha in second.

Combined results across both Saturday and Sunday can be found here.

USF2000: Kirkwood, Cape Motorsports Stay On Top of Deep USF2000 Field

New Cape Motorsports driver Kyle Kirkwood, who topped Session 2 on Saturday, stayed on top of the combined speed charts across the weekend on the strength of his best lap from Session 3 of the weekend on Saturday.

Pabst Racing’s Rasmus Lindh was right behind Kirkwood, on the strength of his quick lap from Session 1.

However, Sunday’s running saw a different driver assert his authority, with Kaylen Frederick, Lindh’s teammate at Pabst, turning the fastest lap during the final session.

Frederick ended up fourth in the combined results, which can be viewed here.

The Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires will take to the Homestead-Miami road course on Monday for the final day of testing for the Mazda Road to Indy.

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