Earnhardt Jr announcement on leaving DEI

Earnhardt Jr. To Drive for New Team in 2008 MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Four-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., announced today at a news conference at JR Motorsports that negotiations to extend his driving...

Earnhardt Jr. To Drive for New Team in 2008

MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Four-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., announced today at a news conference at JR Motorsports that negotiations to extend his driving contract with Dale Earnhardt Inc. have come to an amicable end.

Earnhardt Jr. will continue driving the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet through the remainder of the season, while his sister, Vice President and General Manager of JR Motorsports, Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, will begin exploring new opportunities for 2008. Earnhardt Jr. said Thursday he would look at his options in the coming months and hopefully announce a decision mid to late summer.

"What team I drive for next season, I don't know," Earnhardt Jr. said. "But what I do want to say is that it's been a privilege to drive for DEI. After a year of intense negotiations and concerted efforts to extend my contract there, it became evident that while we want to get to the same place, we simply have different visions on how to get there."

Earnhardt Jr. made the announcement with his sister, Earnhardt Elledge, by his side, and many of the Earnhardt family in attendance.

"DEI will always be a special place for me and my family," Earnhardt Jr. said. "(Owner) Teresa (Earnhardt) and (Vice President of Global Operations) Max Seigel are taking the necessary steps to bring DEI back to one of the front-running NASCAR teams. However I am 32 years old -- the same age as my father when he made his final and most important career decision -- and the time for me to compete on a consistent basis and contend for championships is now. Since that is what I plan to do, I feel strongly that I would have my father's blessing."

Earnhardt Jr. said JR Motorsports will continue to work with DEI on many projects that will benefit both companies and protect the legacy of his father.

Since joining DEI in 1998, Earnhardt Jr. has accumulated 17 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victories, one Nextel All-Star Challenge win, two NASCAR Busch Series championships, and 22 Busch Series victories. He won the Great American Race, the Daytona 500, in 2004 in a season that featured a career-high six victories. The fans have voted him NASCAR's Most Popular Driver each of the last four seasons, an honor he shares with legendary drivers Richard Petty, Bobby Allison and Bill Elliott.

-credit: jrm

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Bill Elliott , Richard Petty , Bobby Allison
Teams JR Motorsports