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HMS Working On Extension For Earnhardt Jr

[1]Jayski [2] is reporting via ESPN.com [3], Hendrick Motorsports is working on contract extension for NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Team owner Rick Hendrick confirmed the talks.

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 [4], 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.