Authors: By JENNA FRYER
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- The U.S. Army will not return to Stewart-Haas Racing next season, citing a reallocation of its marketing budget that does not include a presence in NASCAR.
SHR said Tuesday it is pursuing a new sponsor.
"The U.S. Army has been a great partner of Stewart-Haas Racing since the team's inception," said Brett Frood, executive vice president of SHR. "It has been a mutually beneficial relationship, with the U.S. Army introducing training regimens that improved our pit crews while instilling the mental, physical and emotional strength of the U.S. Army Soldier in all of us."
The Army has been in NASCAR for 10 seasons, and at one point was a primary sponsor. It moved to SHR to sponsor Ryan Newman in 2009 when the team was formed.
"The sport, our drivers and the passionate NASCAR fans embraced the Army's participation and created a tremendous opportunity for Americans to learn more about the profession of the Army Strong Soldier," Army marketer John Myers said in a statement.
The decision to leave NASCAR comes as Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota and Rep. Jackson Kingston of Georgia are pushing an amendment that would prohibit military sponsorship of sports.
McCollum lost a House vote a year ago to end military sponsorships of NASCAR, professional wrestling and fishing, but is trying again to have the approximately $80 million in sponsorship cut from the defense budget.
SHR currently fields two full-time teams - one for three-time NASCAR champion and team co-owner Tony Stewart, and one for Newman. The plan was to expand to three teams next season with Danica Patrick, who is running 10 Sprint Cup Series races this year for SHR.
Although Stewart has said he wants to bring Newman back next year, the driver is in the final year of his contract and the sponsorship loss will likely slow contract extension talks.