MOORESVILLE, N.C. - For the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series seasons, Dale Earnhardt, Inc. has announced changes to two of its four teams.
Chance 2 Motorsports, co-owned by Teresa Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., will run a full schedule in a quest of the NASCAR Busch Series championship in 2004. Martin Truex, Jr. will be the primary driver and Earnhardt, Jr. will drive a second car for superspeedway races at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.
Also, the No. 1 Chevrolet will be run under a different marketing program next year only participating in special races. John Andretti will drive in the season-opening Daytona 500.
The new plan also calls for Truex, Jr. to run five - seven Nextel Cup Series races in 2004 to prepare for a possible full-time move to the series in 2005.
"This is the approach we decided to take looking toward the 2005 season," said Teresa Earnhardt, President and CEO of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. "We are going to strengthen our program for the No. 1 car and get that back to the status of Earnhardt standards.
"From a marketing standpoint, this is a great opportunity for a company to get involved with a Nextel Cup team. And, a young driver such as Truex Jr. in our No. 1 car will be the perfect place to utilize that strategy.
Dale Earnhardt, Inc. won four Winston Cup Series races - including the prestigious Daytona 500 - and three Busch Series races in 2003. Truex, Jr. competed in six Busch races with Chance 2 Motorsports this season garnering two top-five finishes and three top-10s. He closed the season with two, consecutive second-place finishes.
By competing in just seven races this year, Truex Jr. will be eligible to compete for Rookie of the Year honors in Nextel Cup in 2005. Dale Earnhardt, Inc. has won two NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and two NASCAR Busch Series championships.
"I'm really looking forward to run for the Busch championship," Truex, Jr., 23, said. "After six races with Chance 2 in 2003, I was really pleased with the way things went and how we performed. Some of our finishes didn't reflect what we are truly capable of achieving on the track.
"But, we'll have 34 races next year to capitalize on what we learned this year together. I have the best equipment, crew chief and team anyone could ask for in the Busch garage. We ended the season on a positive note with two, second-place finishes."
Teresa Earnhardt was on top of the team's pit box during the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway when Truex, Jr. finished second.
"The Chance 2 team and Martin have shown they are capable of competing up to the standards we strive to achieve here at Dale Earnhardt, Inc.," Earnhardt said. "Committing to a full season in the Busch Series will better prepare us to meet the high standards of the No. 1 team in 2005."