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Sources: Earnhardt Jr. to drive for Hendrick in '08

By Marty Smith

ESPN.com

Updated: June 12, 2007, 2:27 PM ET

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Wednesday will announce his intent to drive the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in 2008, multiple sources with intimate knowledge of negotiations told ESPN.com Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

Hendrick Motorsports declined comment Tuesday, and e-mails and calls sent to Earnhardt's representation were not returned. A news conference was scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday to officially announce the deal.

Kelly Earnhardt Elledge, who has handled contract negotiations for her brother, declined to comment on the report.

There was some speculation that the wheels are already in motion to plant Earnhardt in the No. 5 now driven by Kyle Busch before season's end, but Dale Earnhardt, Inc. president Max Siegel, contacted by phone Tuesday, discounted that scenario, saying Earnhardt would remain in the No. 8 through season's end.

Sources said there are indications that Busch may not finish the year in the No. 5. Busch is under contract with HMS through the end of next season, and Hendrick had been working to sign the 22-year old driver to an extension.

Jeff Dickerson, an attorney for Busch, told ESPN.com that "a lot of things may or may not occur. Out of respect for Hendrick Motorsports, we're not really sure what's going on yet. But we're trying. I don't think anything's changed yet. I can not tell you that Kyle is out of the No. 5 for 2008."

Earnhardt announced last month he was leaving Dale Earnhardt Inc. at season's end to compete for a more competitive organization.

Joe Gibbs Racing and Ginn Racing, both considered contenders to land Earnhardt, said Tuesday they are not part of the press conference. Richard Childress, whose team was also thought to have an opportunity to sign Earnhardt, is out of the country.

It is unknown whether sponsor Budweiser will follow Earnhardt to Hendrick.

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I'm a big fan of Jr., and as much as I can't stand Jeff Gordon, I can live with Jr. going to Hendrick Motorsports. Hopefully he can latch on to the Hendrick luck and roll into a Nextel Cup with his name etched on the side in the next couple seasons.

As for Budweiser, they'd be stupid to not follow him there. Bud is more recognizeable with Jr. than the #8.

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I'm thinking this is like Dale Jr. turning heel, with him joining forces with Jeff Gordon and all :P

But seriously, if Junior wants to win...then that's the place to go. Good move for both sides.

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Wasn't their an announcement a few weeks back from a fairly high up in Hendrick's saying there was no room for Jr. with the team?

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Wasn't their an announcement a few weeks back from a fairly high up in Hendrick's saying there was no room for Jr. with the team?

As of now, that is true. But I believe Hendrick will be cutting Kyle Busch loose at the end of 07 to make room.

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The idea of that snot-nosed punk Kyle Busch gettin' kicked to the curb (or Ginn Racing, early rumored landing spot for him) is the most entertaining part of this story.

Love the heel turn reference, TFofAtl, oh so appropriate. If only he would show up for the presser in all balck, unshaved and leave the obligatory dark sunglasses on thru the whole conference. Just need Hendrick delivering the chair shot on Kyle...oh well, rasslin'/racin' fantasy booking moment...

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I'm thinking this is like Dale Jr. turning heel, with him joining forces with Jeff Gordon and all :P

But seriously, if Junior wants to win...then that's the place to go. Good move for both sides.

Hendrick Motorsports = NASCAR's version of the Four Horsemen

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Maybe now Dale Jr. Can win

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WHOOOOOOOOOOOO! Let the NASCAR Horsemen Ride

Bye Bye Kyle Busch

#5 Earnhardt Jr.

#24 Gordon

#25 Mears

#48 Johnson

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I can't say I've been a Hendrick fan since my favorite driver (Ricky Rudd) left in 1994, but this is a great move. That Jr./Gordon/Mears/Johnson lineup is nothing short of awesome.

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Gordon and Jr. on the same team. That's gotta be going over well with Jr.'s fans. I love it. I guess now we'll get to see if the kid can drive or not. He can't blame his equipment anymore.

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Been a big #5 fan from the Terry Labonte days.

Hated it when Busch got the ride.

Hendrick Motorsports made a good move with Jr.

Maybe now I can start to be one of his many fans!

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l_43dc99a20086a829dce5260cf53b164e.gif

Nice pic, I wonder if they'd consider matching up the number font of the #5 so that is matches the font of the 24, 25, and 48 cars? I know you see this with a lot of teams (for example the Yates #38 and #88, the #1, #8, and #15 of DEI and such)

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I wonder if the Budweiser #25 will come back.....

Back to the days of Ricky Craven, Wally Dallenbach & Kenny Schrader.

Junior and Mears could then just flip flop. 25 to Junior and 5 to Mears.

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I'm a big fan of Jr., and as much as I can't stand Jeff Gordon, I can live with Jr. going to Hendrick Motorsports. Hopefully he can latch on to the Hendrick luck and roll into a Nextel Cup with his name etched on the side in the next couple seasons.

As for Budweiser, they'd be stupid to not follow him there. Bud is more recognizeable with Jr. than the #8.

Jr's job will be to block for the Hendrick twins until Jeffy Boy wins his 8th Title. After that, MAYBE, Rick Hendrick will give Jr. his blessing and ALLOW him to win a Title.

Terry Labonte won the Title in 1996 and spent all of 1997 blocking for Jeffy Boy.

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I'd love to see the old Budweiser #25, but I believe the number font is a bit skinnier than what they use now.

If Mears goes to the 5 that means he be with four different cars in 4 years(41, 42, 25, 5)

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