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 Posted: Tue Jun 12th, 2007 09:52 pm
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Old Sorrel

Joined: Thu Mar 15th, 2007
Location: Valley Forge, Pennsylvania USA
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For Earnhardt Jr., all signs point to Hendrick in 2008
Announcement regarding future to come on Wednesday
By David Caraviello, NASCAR.COM
June 12, 2007
03:23 PM EDT


Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr., racing together as teammates -- it's a powerhouse combination of megawatt marketability that could become reality at Hendrick Motorsports as soon as Wednesday.

Earnhardt has scheduled an 11 a.m. ET news conference at his JR Motorsports shop in Mooresville, N.C., during which he will announce his plans for next season, according to a team spokesman. Sources have indicated to NASCAR.COM that those plans center on Hendrick Motorsports, the most successful organization in Nextel Cup this season, with 10 race victories in 14 starts.

Junior leaving DEI
Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced he will leave Dale Earnhardt Inc. at the end of this season.
Hendrick, with six total championships on NASCAR's premier series, would fit with Earnhardt's desires to drive for a contender and to continue to pilot Chevrolets. The Hendrick team also had ties to Earnhardt's late father, who shook down the first car the organization ever built, and was behind the wheel when team owner Rick Hendrick recorded his first NASCAR victory in a Busch race at Charlotte in 1983. Earnhardt Jr.'s car sponsor, Budweiser, also appeared on Hendrick cars in the mid-1990s.

Mike Davis, communications director for JR Motorsports, would confirm only that Wednesday's announcement concerned Earnhardt's plans for 2008 and beyond. A spokesman for Hendrick Motorsports declined to comment. Earnhardt has been looking for a new ride since he announced his plans to split from Dale Earnhardt Inc. when his contract expires at the end of this season.

Earnhardt and his manager, sister Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, have spoken with a number of unspecified team owners since the driver's impending departure from DEI was announced May 10. Three Chevy teams -- Hendrick, Richard Childress Racing, and Joe Gibbs Racing -- emerged as frontrunners, with Ginn Racing lurking as a dark horse.

But Childress, owner of the team that fielded cars for Earnhardt's father, was on a hunting expedition Tuesday in New Zealand, and not expected to return until the end of the week. The Gibbs team has expressed unease with the presence of a beer sponsor, as well as the idea of a rapid expansion to a fourth team. Team president J.D. Gibbs is also out of the office this week on vacation, according to his assistant.

Yet the addition of Earnhardt would likely force Hendrick to move one of its drivers, since the team is already at NASCAR's impending four-car limit, and has four drivers under contract beyond this season. Asked by reporters last month whether his team could accommodate Earnhardt, Hendrick said there was "no room at the inn."

But now, apparently, there may be. The contract of Hendrick driver Kyle Busch expires after the 2008 season, and The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Busch may have asked to be let out of his deal.

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