Dale Jr Signs 5 Year deal with Hendrick

Dale Earnhardt Jr announced today in a press conference that he has signed a 5 year deal with Hendrick Motorsports and will replace Kyle Busch in the Hendrick Motorsports.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Wednesday he is joining Hendrick Motorsports, moving him one step closer toward the championship that has eluded him while driving for his late father's company.

Rick Hendrick said Earnhardt will replace Kyle Busch on his star-studded roster of drivers. The decision ends five weeks of recruiting for NASCAR's most popular driver, who became a free agent May 10 when he said he would leave DEI at the end of this season.

Kyle Busch has said in a statement that he would be leaving Hendrick at the end of this season. Both Ginn Racing and DEI has expressed interest in Busch.

His criteria for a new team included finding a place he could win championships, and Hendrick is the perfect fit. Hendrick has won six championships, and has 10 wins through 14 points races this season.

"It became apparent to me the man I wanted to drive for," Earnhardt said. "He competes with integrity and most importantly, he wins races."

It was not immediately clear what number car Earnhardt will drive, and who will sponsor the car. Since starting in NASCAR, Earnhardt has driven the No. 8 Chevrolet, and he has long-standing ties to Budweiser.

Hendrick also has longtime ties to Earnhardt's family. He fielded a car in 1983 for Dale Earnhardt Sr., who drove it to a Busch Series win at Lowe's Motor Speedway. That entry was co-owned by Robert Gee, who is Junior's maternal grandfather.

Earnhardt hasn't come close in seven full seasons at DEI to winning a Cup title. Hendrick, meanwhile, has won six championships since 1995, and along with four-time champion Gordon, currently fields defending series champion Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Casey Mears.

"I think that I'll have a good opportunity to succeed and win a lot of races," Earnhardt said. "Personally, I think I will cherish a championship on my mantle when it's all said and done.

"I think I can live without it, obviously, but I'll be 90, 95 percent on my goals that I set for myself personally if I can't gather my championship. I really do want it."

With four drivers under contract, Hendrick told The Associated Press last month he had "no room at the inn" for Earnhardt. But Hendrick said Wednesday that Busch, who has a win this year and is currently 10th in the standings, was already talking to other teams when Earnhardt decided to leave DEI.

The 22-year-old Busch signed with Hendrick before he turned 18, and has four career Cup victories and a spot in last year's Chase for the championship to show for it. Hendrick said he and Busch discussed a contract extension, but as those talks progressed in late May - and when Earnhardt became a free agent - they fizzled.

"It became pretty obvious to both of us that maybe a fresh start might be good for both of us," Hendrick said.

It's going to be interesting to see what Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson have to say about having NASCAR biggest star as a teammate.

By Eddie


Driver Insider Top Stories