Earnhardt Jr just completed the third year in a five-year deal that runs through the 2012 Sprint Cup season. Hendrick was quoted as saying:
We’re looking at extending [the contract]. I really like him. I think the world of him. I know he can do it. We just have to get the right combination in, and I think we’re going to have it. I hope we get to race together until he retires … until I retire. I’ll retire first.
Earnhardt Jr said:
The only person that can truly help me get where I need to go starts with me, then it goes to Rick, Steve [Letarte] and those guys in your inner circle every week and in your corner every week. My biggest problem, I think, is my confidence.
The news of contract talks comes after HMS announced that Earnhardt Jr will be paired with crew chief Steve Letarte next season. In a three-crew-chief swap, Earnhardt Jr gets Letarte from Jeff Gordon; Gordon gets Alan Gustafson from Mark Martin; and Martin gets Lance McGrew from Earnhardt Jr.
As part of the restructuring, the No. 88 team will move to the shop with the five-time championship team of Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus. Gordon will move to the shop with Martin.