Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s future at HMS

Earnhardt and Letarte at Bristol - the magic will continue after HMS re-signs Jr.
Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR

On Thursday, the announcement came that Dale Earnhardt Jr. has signed a five-year contract extension with Hendrick Motorsports; he's been with the team for three seasons thus far. The 2011 season has been his best year to date, even though he has been without a win since 2008. Working with his crew chief Steve Letarte has proved to be the needed change in his career.

Speaking on signing his extension while at Atlanta this weekend, Earnhardt Jr. said, "I’m happy to have Rick’s commitment and hopefully me and Steve can continue to grow and start to do what we want to do on the race track. I’m looking forward to it man, it kind of puts it at ease there a little bit."

After a season of highs, including winning the pole at the Daytona 500 and season-best finishes of second at Martinsville and Kansas, Earnhardt and Letarte are clicking and making marked improvement for the No. 88 team. Earnhardt Jr. is currently ninth in points in the championship standings, -102 behind the current points leader Kyle Busch. When asking if making the Chase is a relief, Earnhardt Jr. replied, "Yea, relief is probably the right word. Everyone expects you to make the Chase. If you don’t make the Chase you get that tag on you. You get labeled when you don’t make the Chase and I want to avoid being in that situation."

Tonight, Earnhardt Jr. starts in 24th place for the AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta; qualifying hasn't been so easy for him, yet he's finished in top spots several times this season: second in Martinsville and Kansas, fourth in Talladega, seventh in the Coca Cola 600. Jr. Nation is hopeful and looking for the win that has eluded their team for so long.
The No. 88 will be driving a special paint scheme
in Atlanta, honoring the National Guard Military Intelligence Division.

Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 Chevrolet has a special paint scheme tonight, honoring the Military Intelligence division. He was at Dobbins Air Force Base on Friday,  where he unveiled the No. 88 National Guard Military Intelligence/AMP Energy Chevrolet that he is driving at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s future at HMS Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s future at HMS Reviewed by Unknown on Sunday, September 04, 2011 Rating: 5