National Guard sticks with No. 88

The Army National Guard will continue as the primary sponsor for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 Chevrolet through the 2013 season, Hendrick Motorsports announced Friday.

The National Guard will be the primary paint scheme in 20 Sprint Cup races next season, including the season-opening Daytona 500.

"Working with the Guard has been incredible," Earnhardt said in a news release. "On a weekly basis, we're interacting with people considering a life-changing decision (to enlist) or who are already serving our country.

"Their sacrifices are difficult to comprehend, and we feel a lot of pride representing them and seeing first-hand how passionate they are about NASCAR and our team."

Hendrick Motorsports officials said additional sponsorship for the No. 88 Chevy will be announced at a later date.

Earnhardt, 37, is enjoying his best season in years. He ranks fourth in the Cup standings with one victory and 15 top-10 finishes in 22 races.

Forbes magazine recently listed Earnhardt as No. 7 among America's most influential athletes. He also was the top-ranked NASCAR driver in Bloomberg Businessweek's "Power 100." Earnhardt has been voted by fans as NASCAR's most popular driver for nine consecutive years.