Dale Earnhardt Jr. signs 5 yr. deal

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will remain with the team his late father started after reaching a five-year deal to continue as the driver of the No. 8 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Earnhardt Jr., who turns 29 on Friday, has been with the team his father started since 1998, the year he won the first of two straight NASCAR Busch Series championships.

Terms of the deal were not released, but it is Earnhardt Jr.'s first one as a driver on the Winston Cup circuit.

 Dale Earnhardt, Inc. is owned by Teresa Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt's widow.

"Dale and I built this organization with a long-term plan in place," Teresa Earnhardt said. "Dale Jr. has always been an intricate part of that plan and this agreement represents our commitment to one another and reaching the goal of winning championships."

Most recently, Earnhardt Jr. finished third on September 28 in the EA Sports 500, which was won by his DEI teammate Michael Waltrip. Earnhardt Jr. is third in the points standings, 325 points behind leader Matt Kenseth. He recorded his eighth career victory at the season-opening Bud Shootout and has a career-best 17 top-10 finishes with six races remaining.

 "This is the first time I have had a contract in four years," Earnhardt Jr. said. "We had a handshake and that was sufficient. But in today's business world you need written agreements and now we have one.

"It was an interesting process that was very educational. What it really came down to was Teresa and myself being in the same place at the same time and sitting down to talk about it. Once that happened, it was taken care of in no time at all."

Dale Earnhardt was a seven-time Winston Cup champion. He died in a crash at the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18, 2001Jason Jordon


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