ARLINGTON, Va. — The Marine Corps is ending its sponsorship of a NASCAR racing team after six years, Marine Corps Recruiting Command announced this week.

The Corps’ $3.5 million contract with the Rensi Motorsports team and Busch Series driver Ashton Lewis will end after this season’s last race in November, said Master Sgt. James Edwards, a spokesman for the recruiting command.

He said the decision was a financial one, but also was made because the Corps has no way of knowing how the Marines’ NASCAR endorsement was affecting recruiting.

“We don’t have a tracking mechanism to track how many people contracted because of seeing that advertisement on the hood of the car,” he said.

The Marine Corps advertising budget has shrunk from $75 million in fiscal 2006 to $48 million in fiscal 2007, Edwards said.

“The Marine Corps has a limited advertising budget designed to generate awareness and create leads for our Marines recruiting throughout the nation,” he said.

So the Corps has decided to devote its limited advertising budget to other avenues, such as television and Internet ads, Edwards said.

“The bottom line: There are other ways to get our message to our target audience,” he said.

Edwards stressed that the Corps appreciates all the hard work its NASCAR team has put in.

“We’re not leaving on bad note and this is not a negative thing, but it wasn’t fitting what we need to do today,” Edwards said.

The move comes one month after the Coast Guard announced it was ending its sponsorship of a NASCAR team.

Facing “competing fiscal priorities and budget restructuring,” the Coast Guard decided to use the $5 million allocated for NASCAR toward operational issues, such as homeland defense, drug interdiction, and search and rescue, Coast Guard spokesman Steve Blando said.

“We would have loved to continue our relationship with NASCAR,” Blando said.

Officials from the Army, Air Force and Navy said those services expect to continue sponsoring NASCAR teams.

Going into this weekend’s Busch Series race in Memphis, Lewis had three top-10 finishes in 31 starts this season.

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