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#88 NASCAR Team News and Links

OFFICIAL TEAM/DRIVER LINKS
Hendrick Motorsports
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Alex Bowman (Clash at Daytona)
JR Motorsports
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Foundation
Whiskey River

PRIMARY SPONSORS LINKS
Nationwide Insurance (22 races)(2017)
Axalta Coating Systems (13 races)(2017?)
Axalta Racing
Mountain Dew (3 races)

ASSOCIATE SPONSORS LINKS
Valvoline (2017)
Team Valvoline

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
Team Hendrick - Twitter
Hendrick88Team - Twitter
Hendrick Motorsports - Pinterest
Hendrick Motorsports - Facebook
Hendrick Motorsports - Instagram
Hendrick Motorsports - YouTube
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Twitter
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Facebook
Alex Bowman Racing - Twitter
Alex Bowman Racing - Facebook
Alex Bowman - Instagram
DirtyMoRadio - Twitter
MikeDavis88 (PR) - Twitter
JR Motorsports - Twitter
Nationwide88 - Twitter
- Facebook
Axalta Racing - Twitter

STATISTICS
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - ESPN
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - RacingReference.info
Alex Bowman - ESPN
Alex Bowman - RacingReference.info

MORE INFO
2017 #88 Paint Scheme page
2016 #88 Paint Scheme page
2015 #88 Paint Scheme page
Paint Scheme Gallery
Driver Appearances
Team Address/Contact

Nationwide Insurance [22 races] is scheduled to be the primary sponsor at the following races in 2017:
Daytona, Clash* - 2/18, Alex Bowman driving
Daytona, Budweiser Duel* - 2/18
Daytona - 2/26
Atlanta - 3/5
Las Vegas - 3/12
Bristol - 4/23
Richmond - 4/30
Talladega - 5/7
Charlotte - 5/28
Dover - 6/4
Daytona - 7/1
Kentucky - 7/8, Nationwide Children's Hospital
New Hampshire - 7/16
Indy - 7/23
Pocono - 7/30
Darlington - 9/3, throwback
New Hampshire - 9/24
Dover - 10/1
Kansas - 10/22
Martinsville - 10/29
Texas - 11/5
Phoenix - 11/12
from DaleJr.com

Axalta [13 races] is scheduled to be the primary sponsor at the following races in 2017:
Phoenix - 3/19
Auto Club - 3/26
Martinsville - 4/2
Texas - 4/9
Charlotte, All-Star race* - 5/20, w/Maaco
Pocono - 6/11
Sonoma - 6/25
Watkins Glen - 8/6
Michigan - 8/13
Bristol - 8/19
Richmond - 9/9
Chicago - 9/17
Homestead - 11/19

Mountain Dew [~3 races] is scheduled to be the primary sponsor at the following races in 2017:
Kansas - 5/13, patriotic
others TBA
Races [3 races] where no sponsor is yet scheduled at the following races in 2017:
Michigan - 6/18
Charlotte - 10/8
Talladega - 10/15

see Jayski.com's Dale Earnhardt Tribute Page
Contract Status: (if known)
Driver: 2017; Primary Sponsors: Nationwide 20178; Axalta 2018; Diet Mountain Dew 2017+?;
Bowman: 2019


#88 Team / Driver News

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Homestead Press Conference...the transcript Dale Earnhardt, Jr., #88 Axalta Chevrolet SS, met with members of the media at Homestead-Miami Speedway and discussed competing in his final race as a full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver, his emotions going into his final race, the group of people he will have around him and many other topics (Team Chevy). See the full transcript HERE.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Legacy Sunday's race at Homestead will finish Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s final full season in NASCAR (he's left the door open for running future races). The legacy he leaves behind is one of the biggest fan favorites in series history, and one of the top drivers to never win a championship. See all kinds of stats and notes HERE (11-17-2017)

Watch Earnhardt's final paint scheme come to life To close out his NASCAR Cup Series career, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Axalta figured there was no better way to go out than with a paint scheme that paid tribute to the way he came in. This weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the driver will pilot a red #88 Axalta Chevrolet SS with black and white stripes, paying homage to the driver's very first paint scheme, which debuted in 1999 when he competed in his first career Cup Series race.(Hendrick Motorsports)[Read More Here](11-15-2017)

Special schemes for Kahne, Earnhardt, Jr. at Texas: The Hendrick Motorsports drivers will sport schemes promoting the new Warner Bros. movie, "Justice League," which debuts in theaters Nov. 17.[More](11-1-2017)

Texas Motor Speedway will celebrate to make Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s final race gr-eight From the concession stands to "Big Hoss," Texas Motor Speedway will celebrate Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s final race in the Lone Star State during this weekend's AAA Texas 500 NASCAR playoff tripleheader. The most unique tribute for NASCAR's most popular driver, who is set to retire at the conclusion of the season, comes best served warm with salt and dipping sauces. Levy Restaurants has created the "JR88" pretzel that features two four-ounce soft pretzels shaped into Earnhardt Jr.'s iconic #88. The specialty concession item, only available at this weekend's AAA Texas 500, will be served in a specially branded "JR88" box and include bacon beer cheese and spicy brown mustard for dipping. The "JR88" pretzels will sell for $10 and are hearty enough to feed two hungry JR Nation fans. The pretzels can be purchased throughout the race weekend at concourse stands outside Gates 4.(Texas Motor Speedway)[Read More Here](10-31-2017)

Saturday Martinsville Notebook / Marco Andretti & Earnhardt? On Saturday morning at Martinsville Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. acknowledged discussing the possibility of providing a NASCAR XFINITY Series ride for Marco Andretti, Mario's grandson. Only one problem: with four Chevrolets set to compete full-time for the XFINITY title next year - with drivers Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier, Michael Annett and Tyler Reddick - Earnhardt doesn't have an "all-star car" to make occasional starts with a variety of drivers. Denny Hamlin plans to win one of the next three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, all tracks that set up nicely for the driver of the #11 Joe Gibbs racing Toyota. But if Hamlin can't take a checkered flag at Martinsville, Texas or Phoenix, he'll become a fan of fellow Toyota drivers Martin Truex Jr., the series leader, and JGR teammate Kyle Busch. Last Sunday at Kansas Speedway, Ryan Blaney advanced to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series' Round of 8 with a third-place finish bolstered by 10 points accumulated during the first two stages of the Hollywood Casino 400. But Blaney isn't willing to say he and the #21 Wood Brothers racing team have overachieved this season. Blaney and team owners Eddie Wood and Len Wood prefer to view their Playoff run as peaking at the right time.(NASCAR Wire Service)[Read More Here](10-29-2017)

Martinsville Speedway Contributes $10,000 to Start Endowment for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Honorary Scholarship When #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. leaves Martinsville Speedway for the final time as a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver, he will leave behind a legacy that will be felt not only in the garage and in the grandstands, but at Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC), as well. Martinsville Speedway contributed $10,000 to start an endowment for the Dale Earnhardt Jr. Honorary Scholarship in the school's Motorsports Program. Each year, two students enrolled in the program, who have a minimum GPA of 2.5, will receive a $1,000 scholarship.(Martinsville Speedway)[Read More Here](10-28-2017)

Earnhardt Jr. to run Grey Ghost throwback scheme at Martinsville Fitting with the JR Nation Appreci88ion Tour theme, Nationwide gave fans the chance to pick Dale Earnhardt Jr's paint scheme for this weekend's race at Martinsville. When the votes were tallied, fans selected the "Grey Ghost" as the #88's scheme - fitting for Halloween weekend considering the orange and black colors. In 2016, Earnhardt was scheduled to run the sleek, silver scheme on his #88 Nationwide Chevy for the throwback race at Darlington Raceway, but Jeff Gordon ended up filling in as Earnhardt missed the final half of the season due to a concussion. It's only fitting that Earnhardt will get to race one of his all-time favorite schemes before he retires from full-time Cup Series racing.(Hendrick Motorsports)[Read More Here](10-26-2017)

Amy Earnhardt expecting a baby: Dale Jr said Tuesday that the couple has a daughter on the way.[More](10-16-2017)

#88 spotter change next season: T.J. Majors will leave Hendrick Motorsports as Kevin Hamlin serves as Alex Bowman's spotter.[More](10-16-2017)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. bags first Talladega pole in last NASCAR season: Dale Earnhardt Jr. has started on the front row in every restrictor-plate race this season. The driver of the #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has won six races at Talladega Superspeedway. But Saturday was special.[More](10-14-2017)

Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s #2 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Presented to Dale Earnhardt Jr. by Talladega: Before six-time Talladega Superspeedway winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. takes his final laps at the track he considers his "second home" in Sunday's Alabama 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race, the track surprised him Friday afternoon by presenting him - on permanent loan - with the No. 2 Chevrolet Monte Carlo driven by his father Dale Earnhardt Sr. to the 1980 NASCAR Championship title. The presentation was made by Grant Lynch, Charmain of Talladega Superspeedway, and Alabama Senator Gerald Dial, Chairman of the Board of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame (IMHOF), located outside of the 2.66-mile track.[More](10-13-2017)

Keselowski to honor Earnhardt Jr at Talladega: He will drive a #2 Miller Lite Ford with a scheme that resembles his #88 US Navy he drove for Earnhardt in XFINITY Series.[More](10-9-2017)

Earnhardt, Jr. to be inducted into Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame: Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Texas Motor Speedway will forever be synonymous as the NASCAR superstar captured milestone victories in two national series at the world-renowned motorsports facility. That connection from his first career wins in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and XFINITY Series coming at Texas Motor Speedway will be further strengthened by Monday's announcement of his induction into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame during November's AAA Texas 500 NASCAR tripleheader playoff weekend.[More](10-9-2017)

Charlotte, Speedway Children's Charities establish Dale Earnhardt Jr. Concussion Research Fund: In honor of local hero Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s considerable contributions to the NASCAR community throughout his iconic career, Charlotte Motor Speedway and Speedway Children's Charities have established the Dale Earnhardt Jr. Concussion Research Fund at Carolinas Healthcare System's Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina. The $100,000 gift underwrites ImPACT baseline concussion testing for more than 10,000 student athletes at 62 middle schools, high schools and athletic associations across eight area counties as well as Johnson C. Smith University and Gardner-Webb University. [More](10-6-2017)

Hendrick Motorsports unveils 2018 paint schemes: Thursday evening, Hendrick Motorsports ushered in a new era with the reveal of its four primary Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 paint schemes for the 2018 Daytona 500. The thrilling event, held in uptown Charlotte, not only featured all four of the organization's 2018 drivers - Chase Elliott, William Byron, Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman - but also saw Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon, 14-time most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and 1988 Cup champion Bill Elliott supporting them on stage.[More](10-5-2017)

Hendrick Motorsports 2018 car reveal Thursday at NHOF On Oct. 5 in Charlotte, North Carolina, 12-time NASCAR Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports will reveal the 2018 Daytona 500 primary paint schemes for all four of its Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 teams. It will mark the first time Hendrick Motorsports has unveiled all four of its Daytona 500 cars together and the first official appearance of the team's 2018 driver lineup:
- Chase Elliott and the #9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
- William Byron and the #24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
- Jimmie Johnson and the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
- Alex Bowman and the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
The event is open to fans via the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Information on how fans can attend is available at the NHOF website. The event will also be streamed live on NASCAR.com and the Hendrick Motorsports Facebook page.(Hendrick Motorsports / NASCAR Hall of Fame)[Read More Here](10-3-2017)

Saturday Chicagoland Notebook
Jimmie Johnson encouraged by 14th-place qualifying effort Jimmie Johnson will start what he hopes is a run to his eighth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship from the 14th position on the grid in Sunday's Tales of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Believe it or not, that's an improvement over Johnson's 17.4 average starting spot in the 26-race regular season. Johnson hasn't won a pole this season, and if he fails to do so in the 10-race Playoff, it will mark only the second time in his career the driver of the #48 Chevrolet has failed to claim at least one Coors Light Pole Award, the other being 2011, when he also won a career-low two races.
KESELOWSKI IS SALESMAN OF THE MONTH-FOR RIVAL BRAND? If the war of words is any indication, the advent of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs brings out the persnickety side of the drivers involved. In a Friday tweet, Brad Keselowski bemoaned what he perceives as Toyota's performance advantage over the Fords and Chevrolets in the field. That earned the driver of the #2 Team Penske Ford a lot of return fire from the Toyota camp. After qualifying second to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch, Toyota driver Denny Hamlin couldn't resist a foray into the fray. "I'd like to know what Toyota is paying Brad, because he is their best spokesman," Hamlin quipped. "I need more money for my PSA. If you're shopping for a midsize sedan, get the unfair advantage - get a Toyota."
DALE EARNHARDT JR. THINKS HE'S LEAVING NASCAR RACING IN GOOD HANDS There's no debating that the highest level of NASCAR racing is witnessing a changing of the guard. Jeff Gordon retired from full-time racing at the end of the 2015 season. Tony Stewart followed a year later. Earnhardt is playing out his final year in the #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Danica Patrick has announced she won't return to Stewart-Haas Racing next year. And veterans Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne are out of their current rides, with no concrete plans to announce yet for 2018. That doesn't mean, however, that the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is short on star power. With neophytes Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez, Austin Dillon and Erik Jones leading a parade of talented 20-somethings, Earnhardt believes he's leading the competition in firm hands. "Yeah, absolutely," Earnhardt affirmed. "I think that these young guys are really crafty with social media and I think that's a great direction for them to interact with not only current fans, but to find new fans. I think they do a great job at that."(NASCAR Wire Service)[Read More Here](9-17-2017)

Darlington post-race penalties: Two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and two XFINITY Series penalties were issued after the races at Darlington Raceway. The Cup teams of #11-Hamlin and #88-Earnhardt, Jr. were penalized. Both drivers had their crew chiefs suspended for two races. Hamlin's win is encumbered. In the XFINITY Series, #18-Hamlin and #22-Logano's teams were penalized. Both crew chiefs were suspended two races and Hamlin's XFINITY race win was also encumbered.[More](9-6-2017)

Special scheme for Earnhardt, Jr. at Bristol: Earnhardt will run a special True Timber camouflage Axalta scheme this weekend, featuring Axalta's partners Ducks Unlimited, which is the largest wetlands conservationist in the world, and Service King, an auto service chain that strives to deliver safe, superior repairs with excellent customer service.[More](8-15-2017)

Hendrick Motorsports announces several team promotions: Hendrick Motorsports has elevated eight senior leaders into new positions designed to strengthen the 12-time and defending NASCAR Cup Series champions and enhance the team's overall management structure. The eight executives, who will assume their new roles immediately, have more than 150 combined years of service with the organization.[More](8-15-2017)

Earnhardt, Jr. unveils Homestead paint scheme: When Dale Earnhardt Jr. takes the checkered flag at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19, his career as a full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver will come to a close. What better way to sign off a tremendous 18-year run than to do so in a car that carries the paint scheme he raced from the very beginning? The No. 88 Axalta/AutoNation Chevrolet that Earnhardt Jr. will race during the season-ending 400-mile event at Homestead will feature the iconic scheme from 1999, with a black roof, red main panels and raked side stripes that wrap around to the AutoNation-branded TV panel at the rear. [More](8-2-2017)

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. joining NBC in 2018: Dale Earnhardt Jr., the motorsports icon voted by fans as NASCAR's Most Popular Driver for an unprecedented 14 consecutive years (2003-16), will join NBC Sports Group's NASCAR coverage beginning in 2018, it was announced Monday. Earnhardt will be utilized in a number of capacities on NBC's NASCAR coverage, with specifics to be announced in the coming months. In addition, the agreement with NBCUniversal allows Earnhardt a wide range of opportunities in the company's media businesses, including movies, television, podcasts, and other areas.[More](7-24-2017)

Hendrick, Earnhardt, Jr., Bowman press conference transcript: Following the announcement that Alex Bowman would drive the #88 next season, Rick Hendrick, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Alex Bowman met with the media Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.[More](7-23-2017)

Alex Bowman to replace Earnhardt, Jr. in the #88 next season One year after his impressive debut with Hendrick Motorsports, the team has named Alex Bowman full-time driver of the #88 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Cup Series with a 19-race majority sponsorship from Nationwide beginning in 2018. Bowman, 24, piloted the #88 Chevrolet SS in 10 of the final 18 Cup races last season in place of injured driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. The Tucson, Arizona, native debuted July 17, 2016, at New Hampshire and went on to earn three top-10 finishes with the team including a sixth-place result at Phoenix, where he won the pole position and led a race-high 194 laps.[More](7-20-2017)

Earnhardt, Jr. unveils Darlington throwback scheme: The scheme is patterned off the ACDelco scheme Earnhardt, Jr drove to his first XFINITY win in 1998.[More](7-18-2017)

Earnhardt Jr. to reveal #88 Darlington at NASCAR HOF Dale Earnhardt Jr. is scheduled to be at the NASCAR Hall of Fame (in Charlotte, NC) on Tuesday, July 18 at 2:00pm/et to reveal the #88 Nationwide Chevy throwback paint scheme for the Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. NASCAR Hall of Fame guests are invited to enjoy this exclusive first look of Earnhardt's throwback paint scheme and to listen in as he takes questions from members of the media.(NASCAR Hall of Fame)[Read More Here](7-17-2017)

Nationwide Children's Hospital scheme for Earnhardt, Jr. at Kentucky: Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive the #88 Nationwide Children's Hospital Chevrolet SS this weekend at Kentucky Speedway. The special paint scheme features the Nationwide Children's Hospital (NCH) logo as well as more than 315 names on the hood of people who donated to the hospital through a special fundraising platform.[More](7-6-2017)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. edges teammate Chase Elliott for Coke Zero 400 pole #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. may have just extended his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career by one exhibition race with Friday's pole-winning effort at Daytona International Speedway. The driver who will step away from the #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at the end of the season will start first in that car in Saturday's Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola, after edging teammate #24-Chase Elliott by .044 seconds for the top spot on the grid. The Coors Light Pole Award was Earnhardt's first of the season, his second at Daytona and the 14th of his career. In touring the 2.5-mile speedway in 47.127 seconds (190.973 mph), Earnhardt also qualified for the 2018 Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona, and that's what raised the prospect of another race at "The Birthplace of Speed" for NASCAR's most popular driver. "Yeah, I'll talk to my boss man Rick (Hendrick) and see if we can make some arrangement and come back and have some fun," Earnhardt said after climbing from his car. "I'll see what he's got in the shed." Elliott (190.795 mph on Friday) has won the last two poles for the Daytona 500, knocking Earnhardt out of the top spot this past February. On Friday, it was turn-about for Earnhardt, who credited Elliott and his #24 team for pushing the #88 group to the limit.
Pitstalls
Starting Lineup
Qualifying Results
(NASCAR Wire Service)[Read Full Report](6-30-2017)

JRM Licensing Announces Partnership with CounterFind: JRM Licensing, LLC, which manages the licensed merchandise programs for all the Hendrick Motorsports and JR Motorsports teams and drivers, announced today a partnership with CounterFind, a company specializing in eliminating counterfeit merchandise in the social commerce space. The partnership is the first of its kind for JRM Licensing.
"We have seen a big uptick in the amount of counterfeit merchandise advertised on the various social media platforms," said Joe Mattes, vice president of JRM Licensing. "We're confident this new partnership with CounterFind will assist in reining in the counterfeiters. We want to proactively police the marketplace to protect our clients' brands and trademarks. NASCAR has one of the best fanbases in all of sports, and it's our responsibility to ensure that fans are purchasing authentic, quality merchandise manufactured by officially licensed vendors." Founded by former NFL player Darren Woodson, CounterFind is a turnkey technology used by some of the world's leading sports and entertainment brands to combat counterfeit goods in social commerce. CounterFind's software combines image recognition with human intelligence to detect and report all ads marketing counterfeit merchandise on Facebook and Instagram in real time. "CounterFind is solving the problems that broad internet protection companies can't figure out," said Woodson, CounterFind Founder. "If someone launches an ad on Facebook marketing a counterfeit product for Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, or Chase Elliott, we will find it and have it removed in less than 24 hours."(JRM Licensing)(6-28-2017)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Launches JR Nation Appreci88ion Campaign Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced his version of a final act - a five-month campaign called JR Nation Appreci88ion. It will start this weekend at Daytona and carry through the end of the 2017 season, his last as a full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver. The Appreci88ion campaign will create opportunities in social media, at-track activation, fan engagement, industry participation and philanthropy to celebrate Earnhardt Jr.'s historic career while offering gestures of gratitude to everyone who made the ride possible. That includes fans, teammates, colleagues, family members, lifelong friends and anyone who influenced Earnhardt Jr.'s time in the driver's seat. JR Nation Appreci88ion will have a heavy presence on social media with the #Appreci88ion hashtag and digital engagement opportunities throughout the five-month campaign. Earnhardt Jr. will release weekly videos recollecting memories and milestones achieved at each of the specific racing venues. Sponsors and industry partners will have featured roles as well, activating in unique ways to give back to JR Nation.(JR Motorsports)[Read More Here](6-27-2017)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won't rule out running future Daytona 500: As he retires from full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has two Daytona 500 victories to credit. But that doesn't necessarily mean he won't ever have a third. During a question-and-answer session with reporters after opening practice at Sonoma Raceway, Earnhardt allowed he might consider an encore appearance in NASCAR's most prestigious race-under the right circumstances. True, next week Earnhardt will compete for the last time at Daytona as the driver of the #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy. But that doesn't mean it's the last time he'll compete at Daytona.
Earnhardt also addressed reports that he, too, might be under consideration for a broadcasting role. "We are certainly open to discussing the possibility of seeing what options I have," Earnhardt said. "Who wanted us, what kind of job they want me for, and we are sort of in the middle of understanding that, and that just goes along the lines of doing due diligence on everything. I'm not retiring from work. I want to keep seeking out opportunities to make a living and make money and be relevant and be a value to my partners."(NASCAR Wire Service)[Read More Here](6-24-2017)

Original docuseries following Hendrick Motorsports to debut in July Complex Networks, Film 45, Markay Media, and NASCAR champions Hendrick Motorsports have teamed up on an original eight-part documentary series that journeys deep inside the teamwork, sophistication and heart that makes stock car racing an American institution. Road to Race Day goes behind the scenes with Hendrick Motorsports during the 2016 season, delivering unprecedented access to witness the passion, determination, and talent that propels its superstar drivers - Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. - and crew to be the winningest team in professional stock car racing. Directed by Cynthia Hill (A Chef's Life, Private Violence) and executive produced by Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, Patriots Day), Road to Race Day premieres on Complex Networks' Rated Red available on go90 on Wednesday, July 19.(Hendrick Motorsports)[Red More Here](6-22-2017)

Silly Season heating up: Brad Keselowski left himself very little wiggle room when asked if he is a candidate to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. next season. "Roger has given me a lot, and I have no reason to not want to stay with him," Keselowski replied when The Associated Press asked him if Earnhardt's retirement at the end of the season and his open seat at Hendrick Motorsports is holding up a new deal. As NASCAR hits the long, slow stretch of summer, its "silly season" is certainly heating up and Earnhardt's seat in the #88 Chevrolet the biggest prize of free agency.[More](6-19-2017)

Earnhardt, Jr. talking to TV networks: According to a report on Monday's Sports Business Daily, "NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in talks with Fox Sports and NBC Sports about joining one of their broadcast teams, according to industry sources, the clearest sign yet that Earnhardt is close to a move to the booth." [More](6-19-2017)

Hendrick Motorsports GM Doug Duchardt leaving Hendrick Motorsports executive vice president and general manager Doug Duchardt will leave the organization later this summer. He will remain in his role through the end of June. Duchardt, 53, came to Hendrick Motorsports in January 2005 as vice president of development, a position in which he oversaw race car design, engineering and production. In July 2013, he was elevated to the newly created role of general manager, directing all racing operations for the team. Duchardt's responsibilities will be assigned to multiple team members, including Hendrick Motorsports president Marshall Carlson, chief financial officer Scott Lampe and vice president of competition Ken Howes. The organization does not plan to fill the general manager role.(Hendrick Motorsports)[Read More Here](6-6-2017)

Earnhardt Jr. earns the most news coverage: By sheer volume, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s April 25th retirement announcement has been the news story of the year in NASCAR. The surprising decision made by the sport's most popular personality significantly contributed to Earnhardt's name being referenced in more than 46,000 news media stories.[More](5-18-2017)

Johnson, Lowe's renewal expected soon: Rick Hendrick said he is ready to announce a new deal with Jimmie Johnson sponsor Lowe's "probably anytime" over the next 3-4 weeks and Nationwide also has indicated a willingness to continue with Hendrick Motorsports after the retirement of Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the end of the season. One sponsor Hendrick doesn't have to worry about is Earnhardt sponsor Axalta, which opened a 36,000-square-foot training and customer service center today on the Hendrick Motorsports campus. Hendrick, whose automobile dealerships use 40,000 gallons of paint a year, said he would discuss 2018 driver options with Axalta leadership later today.[ESPN.com](5-16-2017)

Dale and Amy Earnhardt working on home renovation TV show We've already seen Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s home-building skills when he revealed his incredible treehouse.
The tree-top oasis was shown off on Animal Planet's "Treehouse Masters" last year. Now, it looks like the driver of the #88 Chevrolet is getting into the renovation business.
Earnhardt tweeted that he and his wife Amy will work on a historic house in Florida for a show that will air on the DIY Network in 2018.(Hendrick Motorsports)
AND What happens when the world of professional auto racing and home renovation intersect? We'll find out in early 2018 when a special home-improvement series featuring third-generation NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his wife, Amy, makes its debut on DIY Network. The new DIY Network limited series will follow the couple as they restore a classic but dilapidated home in the historic Old Town district of Key West, transforming it into a contemporary seaside retreat. But to create their idyllic tropical getaway, Dale Jr. and Amy face some of the challenges common to renovating and restoring old homes, including structural issues and antiquated wiring and plumbing.(HGTV)[click to continue](5-9-2017)

Loose wheel dashes Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s hopes at Talladega: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. lined up third for a restart on Lap 174 of Sunday's GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, after a massive 18-car wreck on the backstretch thinned the field. The anticipation in the air was palpable, as Earnhardt rolled through the tri-oval toward the start / finish line, but what happened next had fans in the front grandstands ripping the radio headphones off their heads and throwing them to the ground. As the field came up to speed, Earnhardt pulled out of line and moved to the top of the track, coming perilously close to the outside wall. As the pack sped away, Earnhardt's #88 Chevrolet slowed and rolled gingerly to pit road. "Oh, I had a wheel come off," Earnhardt said after the race. "The guys said it was real similar to the issue we had at Atlanta, but it was pretty bad. We were about to wreck. And we were lucky to get to pit road and get it changed. The left rear tire come loose. We didn't change it on the last stop but the glue build-up on the stud didn't allow them to get the tire tight, and it just kind of worked its way loose. We only had one nut tight when we come down pit road. It was real close to coming off. I hated it, because we were right there in good position to get a great finish-if not win the race-and I had to bail out. That was a hard decision to make. But, knowing what I know now when we come down pit road and they saw the tire, I'm glad I did, because it wouldn't have made it another lap or two." Earnhardt lost a lap because of the unscheduled stop but got it back as the highest-scored lapped car when NASCAR called the seventh caution on Lap 179. But over the final few circuits, which included a two-lap overtime, Earnhardt couldn't make progress and finished 22nd.(NASCAR Wire Service)[click to continue](5-8-2017)

Could Dale Earnhardt Jr. run the 2018 Clash if he wins a pole this season? Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned a front row starting position for the GEICO 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega Superspeedway with a second-place qualifying effort in the #88 Nationwide Chevy. Earnhardt Jr. navigated the 2.66-mile track with a final round lap of 190.780 mph. The run marked his third top 10 start of 2017 and his 16th in 34 races at Talladega Superspeedway. It is also his first front row start at Talladega in his 18-year Cup Series career. "The car was really fast today," said Earnhardt Jr. after the qualifying session. "That gives us good confidence in the speed of the car for Sunday."
Q) IT SOUNDED LIKE IF YOU DO GET A POLE YOU MIGHT LOBBY FOR A SPOT IN THE CLASH NEXT YEAR?
Earnhardt Jr.: "Yeah, I've got a 'get in the Clash free card' from this year. I got a credit and if I get a pole I will talk to Rick (Hendrick) and see if we can't line something up." (Team Chevy)[More](5-7-2017)

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. knocks Dale Earnhardt Jr. off Talladega pole Qualifying for Sunday's GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway was shaping up to be a sentimental story-until #17-Ricky Stenhouse Jr. said "No." The last driver to make a run in Saturday's final round of knockout qualifying, Stenhouse knocked #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. off the provisional pole for Earnhardt's last spring race at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. The Coors Light Pole Award was Stenhouse's first since he secured his only previous top starting spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series since 2013 in Atlanta. It was the first pole for a Ford driver at Talladega since Travis Kvapil won his only career pole in October 2008. And it was the first Talladega pole for Roush Fenway Racing since Mark Martin did the honors in both races in 1989. #2-Brad Keselowski qualified third, followed by #20-Matt Kenseth and #6-Trevor Bayne, Stenhouse's teammate at Roush Fenway Racing. Note: #96-D.J. Kennington failed to qualify for the 40-car field.(NASCAR Wire Service)[More](5-7-2017)

Alex Bowman leads field to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2018: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. will leave the building before 2018, this much is true. Who will replace him at Hendrick Motorsports? This much is speculation. Earnhardt's departure will leave a void that ultimately must be filled, even if for all practical matters Earnhardt is irreplaceable as an iconic star of the sport. He moves the needle big-time. But we all must move on, and he will leave the seat warm anyway. So who's next? Alex Bowman? William Byron? A wild-card entry in Carl Edwards? Early handicapping points to Bowman, who filled in for Earnhardt Jr. in 10 of 18 races that Earnhardt missed last season with concussion-related symptoms. Bowman wasn't spectacular, but he was steady. Bowman, 24, posted an average finish of 19.7 in those races.
"I see Rick Hendrick going young," said Steve Letarte, Earnhardt's former crew chief and now an analyst with NBC Sports. "I do not think William Byron is the answer in 2018. I think Hendrick understands that drivers need to mature. We have already seen the struggle of Daniel Suárez this season, who is the Xfinity champion, perhaps getting moved up a little too quickly. I think that can be a detriment to a driver's career. I have Alex Bowman circled on a piece of paper. I think Bowman is the perfect guy. I don't mean a five-year contract, maybe a one- or two-year deal."(Orlando Sentinel)[More](5-4-2017)

Earnhardt Jr. to run special Nationwide Children's Hospital scheme at Kentucky: This July at Kentucky Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive a unique paint scheme for a great cause. Tuesday afternoon, the #88 Nationwide Children's Hospital Chevrolet SS was unveiled, and along with it Nationwide has provided a way to help children everywhere.
Returning this year is a fundraising campaign that allows fans the opportunity to have their name emblazoned on Earnhardt's #88 Chevy while simultaneously supporting patients receiving care at Nationwide Children's Hospital. During the Ride Along with Dale Jr. to Help Kids Everywhere campaign, fans that donate can have their name a part of Earnhardt's Kentucky race weekend.(Hendrick Motorsports)[More](5-3-2017)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. press conference transcript: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. met with members of the media Friday at Richmond International Raceway.[More](4-28-2017)

Hendrick Motorsports has no timetable for naming Earnhart, Jr's replacement: A Hendrick Motorsports executive said Wednesday there is no timetable - or concern - for finding Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s replacement in the #88 Chevrolet. "Obviously it's an important decision for us, and one we're going to take our time, and we're going to find the right person, the right fit for all the factors that go into that," Hendrick Motorsports general manager Doug Duchardt said.[More](4-27-2017)

Dale Earnhardt, Jr retirement press conference transcript: Dale Earnhardt, Jr and Rick Hendrick met members of the media on Tuesday afternoon to discuss Earnhardt, Jr's decision to retire from the Cup Series at the end of the season.[More](4-25-2017)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. wanted to step away on his own terms, announces 2017 will be final season: More than anything, Dale Earnhardt Jr. wanted to be the master of his own destiny. In announcing his retirement from Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing on Tuesday at the Hendrick Motorsports campus in Charlotte, North Carolina, Earnhardt described his primary motivation during months of physically and emotionally exhausting rehabilitation from a concussion that sidelined him from the final 18 races of the 2016 season.[More](4-25-2017)

Earnhardt Jr. to retire from NASCAR Cup Series following 2017:After 18 seasons and more than 600 races behind the wheel, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will bring his NASCAR Cup Series driving career to a close at the conclusion of 2017. Today, he shared the news with members of his #88 Hendrick Motorsports team. The fan favorite and two-time Daytona 500 champion will discuss his decision in a press conference this afternoon. He will be joined by Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, for whom Earnhardt has driven since 2008. The two first met about the driver's decision on March 29. [More](4-25-2017)

Earnhardt Jr. talks about Bristol incident Dale Earnhardt Jr. was involved in an incident on lap 218 in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway
THEY ARE TRYING TO ADDRESS WHAT DAMAGE WAS DONE BEFORE THE INCIDENT AND WHAT DAMAGE WAS DONE AFTER YOU HIT THE WALL, BUT DID YOU HAVE ANY IDEA AT ALL THAT THERE WAS A PROBLEM?
"We came out of the pits and there's some oil in the pit stall I noticed when I was getting lined-up for double file, is smoking. I don't know why. But it's got oil all over the engine compartment. So, in the corner, it just went straight in the wall. I don't know what's broke, but I think that's the end of the day."
ACCORDING TO NASCAR RULES, YOU HAVE TO DO TO THE MEDICAL CENTER. DO YOU FEEL OKAY?
"I feel good. We'll get in here and find out."(TeamChevy PR)[More](4-24-2017)

Johnson, Dale Jr. and Gordon help out Sam Bass NASCAR licensed artist Sam Bass has opened a GoFundMe.com account to try and raise $350,000 for a kidney and pancreas transplant. Bass has waged on an ongoing battle against medical issues resulting from his diabetes. You can donate to Bass' account by clicking here.(FoxSports)[More](4-22-2017)

Dale Jr. to run a patriotic Mountain Dew scheme at Kansas in May With the calendar nearing May, Mountain Dew is helping fans get ready for summer. Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 Chevy will help kick the season off on May 13 at Kansas Speedway with a brand new patriotic look. The red-white-and-blue theme is a nod to Mountain Dew's soon-to-launch summer innovation, Mountain Dew DEW-S-A.(Hendrick Motorsports)(4-21-2017)

Earnhardt's Axalta scheme to feature Philadelphia Eagles at Pocono: Dale Earnhardt Jr. may root for the Washington Redskins, but this June at Pocono Raceway, he'll pilot a Philadelphia Eagles paint scheme. Wednesday morning, Axalta unveiled the special look for Earnhardt's #88 Chevrolet SS. Most importantly, the scheme will prominently display the Axalta All-Pro Teachers logo.[More](4-5-2017)

Earnhardt set to make 600th start Sunday: This weekend, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will reach a milestone in his NASCAR Cup Series career. Sunday in Fontana, California, he will make his 600th Cup start. To mark the occasion, a decal commemorating Earnhardt's 600 starts will be placed on the B-posts and the front of the hood of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS this weekend.[More](3-22-2017)

Axalta makes first 2017 appearance on the #88 Phoenix marks the first of 13 races where Axalta Coating Systems will be the primary sponsor for Earnhardt's #88 Chevy. The new "Flash Point" paint scheme, designed by artist Sam Bass, will make its on-track debut this weekend. The #88 Axalta Chevy incorporates bright, neon yellow and red colors to create an eye-catching paint scheme.(Hendrick Motorsports)[More](3-17-2017)

AmeriCarna returns tonight with Earnhardt Jr. & Ray Evernham AmeriCarna epidsode, "Two Juniors and the El Laguna", Thursday, March 16 at 9 pm on Velocity. Dale Earnhardt Jr. wants Ray Evernham to help restore an El Camino, except add on a Laguna front end. It's not a typical restoration, but it's certainly a NASCAR performance-worthy restoration.(Victory Management Group PR)[More](3-16-2017)

Facebook's Zuckerberg Hot-Laps Charlotte with Dale Jr. Mark Zuckerberg is no stranger to innovation, but the CEO of Facebook tested the limits on something entirely new on Tuesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Zuckerberg joined Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. for a high-speed ride around the iconic 1.5-mile superspeedway before climbing behind the wheel of a NASCAR Racing Experience stock car. Zuckerberg's trip to Charlotte Motor Speedway is part of a year-long challenge that involves visiting every U.S. state and meeting with people to learn more from communities and help Facebook continue to positively influence the world. Zuckerberg's 800-horsepower adrenaline rush followed an earlier tour of the nearby Hendrick Motorsports facility and a meeting with Charlotte Motor Speedway President and General Manager Marcus Smith (CMS)[More](3-14-2017)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Likes NASCAR's Five-Minute Rule: Racing Wrecked Car 'Sucks' With all eyes on Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the Daytona 500 as he made his return to racing, it only was fitting he was the first to fall prey to NASCAR's new Damaged Vehicle Policy. Despite the fact that it forced him to end his day early, though, Dale Jr. said he's in favor of the rule. During the Hendrick Motorsports driver's weekly podcast, "Dale Jr. Download," he explained he's very much in favor of NASCAR's updated regulation. Under the policy, teams have just five minutes from the time the car enters pit road to repair damaged sheet metal, body parts no longer can be replaced and any car that has to go to the garage or behind the pit wall for repairs isn't able to return to the track. Additionally, if a team gets the car repaired and on track in under five minutes, it must maintain a minimum speed throughout the race, or the driver will be required to return to the pits. "So, thoughts on the five-minute clock? I'm good with it," Earnhardt said. "I didn't want to drive that car anymore, if I'm not out there with a good car, competing and trying to win. "My top reason is because it just sucks; it's boring. That goes in the boring bucket."(NESN Fuel)[More](3-3-2017)

Hendrick Motorsports goes for third straight Atlanta win Georgia has been "peachy" to Hendrick Motorsports in recent memory. The four-car outfit owned by Rick Hendrick has won the last three races at Atlanta Motor Speedway behind the efforts of #5-Kasey Kahne (2014) and #48-Jimmie Johnson (2015-16). On Sunday, Hendrick Motorsports will go for its fourth consecutive win at the 1.54-mile track as it travels to AMS with Kahne, Johnson, Georgia native #24-Chase Elliott and #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (NASCAR Wire Service)[More](3-3-2017)

Hendrick cars running Monster logos when required UPDATE: Car owner Rick Hendrick gave a short response to a question Friday about his cars not always displaying logos of Cup series sponsor Monster Energy when they are away from the track.

UPDATE: Monster Energy doesn't have a problem with Hendrick Motorpsorts taking steps to avoid using the Monster logo when its cars or drivers are not in the garage. [More](2-28-2017)

Earnhardt, Jr. feels fine after accident at Daytona: Dale Earnhardt Jr. climbed out of his wrecked race car, surveyed the damage, chatted with his team and hopped on a golf cart for a trip to the infield care center. Eight minutes after checking in with doctors, Earnhardt walked out. And he felt fine.[More](2-27-2017)

Forbes ranks NASCAR's most valuable teams: A dozen years ago, few leagues could match the popularity of NASCAR, which boasted record-high viewership and was going toe-to-toe with the NFL. But then few leagues suffered worse during the economic crash.[More](2-23-2017)

Passion to race drives Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s return to the track: Dale Earnhardt Jr. felt "wobbly" and didn't know why. In his motor coach last July at Kentucky Speedway, Earnhardt felt the first hint of the concussion symptoms that would keep him out of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for the last half of the 2016 season. [More]

Rear tire changer for the #88 suffers injury in post race accident: Over coming adversity and figuring out a way to make things happen is what NASCAR is all about. For the #88 crew this has come earlier than later. Following the Clash Sunday afternoon in Daytona, rear tire changer Devin DelRicco had his ankle run over by a pit road utility cart. The details are a little sketchy at the moment but sources that were around the accident said the cart got DelRicco's ankle and that he was having trouble putting any weight on it.(Pit Talks)(2-20-2017)

Earnhardt Jr. to wait a couple months before deciding to extend contract: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is on the last year of his contract with Hendrick Motorsports. He plans to race for a couple of months, see how he feels, before he decides whether to sign up for more. After his time off, retirement no longer feels like a distant notion. "I've done everything I ever thought I would do," he says. "I've done more than I thought I was capable of doing. I look at my trophies and can't believe they're mine." But his mind is still not quite settled. As much as his time off made him a better human being, it couldn't replace the feeling he gets inside a race car -- that happiness at making so many other people happy. "I've had a hard time trying to find something that's comparable," he says.(see full article at ESPN The Magazine)
AND Earnhardt said the delay is not a sign he is ready to quit driving; rather, he just wants a couple months to figure out whether his health will allow him to continue racing beyond this season. "When I got hurt last year and what I saw it put the company through....I don't want to do that again," he told a group of reporters Saturday. "So I want to get some races under my belt and get confidence in my health before I can commit to him. I don't want to make any promises I can't deliver on." Earnhardt said he thinks he can race for "a couple" more years, but - despite asking himself the question - hasn't been able to put a date on exactly when he might stop (should his health allow him to keep going).(JeffGluck.com)(2-19-2017)

Bowman happy to be aligned with Hendrick: After a stellar performance as a substitute driver for Dale Earnhardt Jr. last year, Alex Bowman got several offers of NASCAR rides - but none that could induce him to leave Hendrick Motorsports, where he spends most of his time driving a simulator. "I was kind of surprised that a winning XFINITY car or something like that didn't open up," Bowman said on Friday at Daytona International Speedway, where he'll race in Saturday night's Advance Auto Parts Clash as a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole winner from 2016. "At the same time, I had quite a few full-time Cup opportunities that were offered, but there really wasn't anything that was going to make me leave Hendrick Motorsports. I feel like I want to be part of a winning organization whether I'm driving, just working for the team, doing testing or doing the simulation stuff. Whatever I'm doing, I want to be part of a winning team. Nothing was going to drag me away from here." Not only that. Bowman figures he'll get the nod, should the organization need another super sub for any of its four drivers. "Obviously, you never hope that situation comes up," Bowman said. "But I think after last year, as easy as it is for me as far as already being here with Hendrick Motorsports, I think if something did come up that I would think I would be the one that would get called for it."(NASCAR Wire Service)(2-18-2017)

Earnhardt Jr. visit's Newman's Rescue Ranch: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his wife Amy paid a visit Friday to the Rescue Ranch, an 87-acre ranch in Statesville, NC that offers rehabilitation and rescue for animals. Earnhardt sent out several tweets about the visit. He obviously enjoyed spending time with the animals.(Charlotte Observer)(2-12-2017)

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in TV booth for the Clash: Dale Earnhardt Jr. is scheduled to join the FOX NASCAR television booth as a guest driver analyst during FS1's live coverage of THE CLASH AT DAYTONA, the exhibition race that serves as a precursor to the 2017 NASCAR season, on Saturday, Feb. 18. Earnhardt, a two-time winner of THE CLASH, will team with FOX NASCAR announcers Mike Joy, Hall of Famer and three-time champion Darrell Waltrip and four-time champ and former Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon. THE CLASH AT DAYTONA marks Earnhardt's second race in the FOX Sports booth. In June 2016, he served as a driver analyst for the NASCAR XFINITY SERIES race from Michigan International Speedway with Adam Alexander and Michael Waltrip, joining a roster of NASCAR CUP SERIES drivers to rotate in the XFINITY booth.(Fox Sports)(2-3-2017)

Earnhardt, Jr. excited about return to racing: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. walked into the Phoenix Raceway garage about 30 minutes prior to the start of testing. There used to be days where he might not arrive that early for a monotonous test. Earnhardt now values his time in a race car as he prepares to mount a comeback in 2017 after missing half the 2016 season because of a concussion. He tested on Dec. 7 at Darlington Raceway to earn approval to return to racing in the Daytona 500 qualifying races Feb. 23. Tuesday was the Hendrick Motorsports driver's first time in a NASCAR Cup car since on the first day of a two-day test at Phoenix Raceway where each race organization could field one car. "I was texting the guys [last night], 'Man, I don't know why, I'm just freakin' pumped up about this,'" Earnhardt said during the lunch break Tuesday. "You miss the camaraderie and the friendships I have with my road crew," said Earnhardt, whose last race was July 9 at Kentucky. "I think they miss me. So that makes you feel good. They seem excited that we're working together and we're back together." As far as his expectations for the upcoming season, Earnhardt wouldn't mention specific goals. "I'm just a little nervous if there will be any kind of learning curve but I don't know," Earnhardt said. "I hope there ain't. Sometimes you see guys in sport, no matter the type of sport, that are away for a while have to adjust to how much has changed since they have taken time off. Then there are some guys that have come back like they've never missed a day. I hope there's no rust to shake off. I'm really anxious to kind of get back there and have some success, go out there and run well and check that box that I'm right where we need to be."(ESPN.com)(2-1-2017)

Gordon willing to sub, but wants Bowman to be first choice: Four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon said he would be willing to return as a replacement driver for Hendrick Motorsports if needed in an extreme circumstance, but believes 23-year-old Alex Bowman should have the opportunity. Gordon replaced Dale Earnhardt Jr. in eight Cup races last season as Earnhardt experienced a recurrence of concussion. Bowman, who does not have a NASCAR ride this season, replaced Earnhardt 10 times, and scored three top-10 finishes. He won the pole and had a best finish of sixth at Phoenix International Raceway after leading 194 laps. Bowman's lone scheduled Cup start is in the exhibition Clash in the #88 Chevrolet because of the Phoenix pole. "I think that you're looking at Alex Bowman, who has done an excellent job stepping in," Gordon told USA TODAY Sports. "He's in a position with Hendrick Motorsports doing a lot of simulation work and debriefs. He did a great job behind the wheel last year. So, I think that a lot of it had to do with they weren't real sure what the scenario was going to be with Alex and then also with sponsors or how long Junior was going to be out, so that was a pretty unique scenario. And I think it would have to be a very unique one for me to step in (in 2017.)"(USA Today)(1-28-2017)

Earnhardt, Jr. leaves drivers council: Dale Earnhardt Jr. told NBC Sports on Wednesday that he won't be on the Cup Drivers Council this year after playing a key role in organizing the group and running the group text. Earnhardt told NBC Sports it was his decision, citing time commitments. Earnhardt was a part of the first Drivers Council meeting with NASCAR in May 2015. "We're just trying to work together," Earnhardt said after that first meeting at Dover. "There's better dialogue and communication that way." Kyle Busch has confirmed that he'll be back on the council. Joey Logano told NBC Sports he will be back on the council.(NBC Sports)(1-26-2017)

Earnhardt, Jr wants to retire on his own terms: Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s highly anticipated return to Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing is less than one month away. No one is more enthusiastic about the most popular driver's comeback than Earnhardt, who spoke with media during Wednesday morning's segment of the 35th Annual NASCAR Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway. Earnhardt hasn't competed since last July at Kentucky Speedway when the aftereffects of a concussion he sustained in a crash in June forced an early end to the 26-time race winner's season. During his time out of the car, Earnhardt had an eventful December which saw the Hendrick Motorsports driver get married and get cleared to return to action this year. He still had a decision to make, though.
"To get approved to race is one thing but to decide to race is another," Earnhardt said. "You have to make the decision if you want to keep racing and if you want to keep racing you've got to give 100 percent. ... I had to answer a lot of personal questions from myself and just really buy in (to returning). All of that was a process and I'm really happy with what I decided to do. I'm just hoping to enjoy what's left of my career and hopefully I get to make the decisions myself as far as how much longer I want to race. I'm really excited about my future."(Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour Notes)(1-25-2017)

Nationwide video series to feature Earnhardt, Jr. Nationwide Insurance lost a little bit of visibility at the track when a concussion sidelined Dale Earnhardt Jr. last season. It will try to create buzz now that he is returning, but it started spending money to create that buzz even before it knew if the sport's most popular driver would race next month at the Daytona 500. The company has created a six-part series it will push on social channels that focuses on Earnhardt's return. The first 180-second episode airs Tuesday night, with 90-second episodes each of the following Tuesdays leading up to the Daytona 500. Earnhardt tested in December and was cleared to race in Daytona. But the series was filmed primarily over two days in late November, a couple of weeks before Earnhardt's test. The series is called "Unfinished Business," using the phrase both team owner Rick Hendrick and Earnhardt used when discussing why Earnhardt would return to racing.
Nationwide's director of sports marketing, Jim McCoy, said the company expects Earnhardt fans to be hungry for Earnhardt content amid his return, and he hopes this series satiates some of that. The company has close to a six-figure budget for production and promotion, McCoy said. Nationwide had a relationship with Earnhardt before it signed to sponsor his car, and McCoy said the company did not pressure him to return.
"All along, it was always Dale's health first," McCoy said. "We have been a partner with him for a long time. ... We just made sure we were aware of what was going on and had contingencies."(ESPN.com)(1-22-2017)

No racing plans for Bowman beyond the Clash: Alex Bowman's focus [now] returns to NASCAR. And when it comes to unemployed Monster Energy Cup drivers, it would difficult to find one with as much potential as Bowman. The 23-year-old racer for Tuscon, Arizona, had the opportunity to audition last season in the #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy while substituting for the sidelined Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his performance was solid. But with less than a month before NASCAR teams report to Daytona International Speedway for Speedweeks, the only race on Bowman's schedule so far is The Clash at Daytona. Although he's posted one pole, three top fives and seven top 10s in 11 starts for JR Motorsports, Bowman doesn't have the backing to make a full-time Xfinity Series ride work with the team. But he's not giving up hope. "It's just money," Bowman said. "This sport is so money-driven and it's not a fully funded deal. I can't write a check to drive a car. I'm trying to get checks written to me to drive a car. If the right situation came up and there was a good sponsor and everything fit, it absolutely would be a possibility. But right now, there's no funding to go do it." He still has his day job with Hendrick Motorsports. He'll still test for the organization and drive the simulator.(Motorsport)(1-19-2017)

Earnhardt, Jr., Kahne to run two NXS races each: Continuing a tradition of running his own JR Motorsports Chevy each season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is scheduled to make a pair of starts in the #88 Chevy Camaro this season in races at Bristol in August and Richmond in September. Long-time JRM driver Kasey Kahne will drive the car at Daytona in February and Talladega in May. Scott Radel, director of engineering at JRM, has been tabbed to crew chief all four races. Radel has been a JRM engineer since 2013, and previously worked for Hendrick Motorsports. He won championships with JRM in 2014 and with two other teams as an engineer. Radel brings 20-plus years of experience in calling races. The #88 "All Star car" has been a full-time car the past two seasons, but with JRM's expansion to four full-time teams and the addition of new drivers William Byron and Michael Annett, it will be a fifth JRM entry in the four races named.(JR Motorsports)(1-13-2017)

Congrats: Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR's most popular driver, married longtime girlfriend Amy Reimann on Saturday night. Earnhardt and Reimann have dated since 2009 and got engaged in June 2015 in Germany at a church where Earnhardt's ancestors had attended seven generations and 300 years ago. "I'm so excited, so thrilled to be a part of it and look forward to our future," Earnhardt said four weeks prior to the ceremony. The wedding Saturday night was at the Childress Vineyards -- owned by NASCAR race team owner Richard Childress -- in North Carolina.(ESPN.com)(1-1-2017)

Earnhardt, Jr. feeling healthy; ready to talk contract extension: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he believes he is more healthy now than he was before a crash at Michigan in June that caused a concussion, triggering balance and vision issues as well as nausea that kept him out for the final 18 races of 2016. He feels so good that he plans to resume contract negotiations with Hendrick Motorsports before he returns to racing in late February when the 2017 season opens at Daytona. The 42-year-old driver's contract is up at the end of 2017, and contract negotiations were put on hold after he stepped out of the car in July. Earnhardt, who in August decided not to return at all in 2016, tested Wednesday at Darlington Raceway and has been cleared to return to racing.
"We're probably going to revisit that [contract extension] before the season starts," Earnhardt said Friday during a teleconference with reporters. "I've told you guys that before I got sick, me and [team owner] Rick [Hendrick] had been sitting down and talking about our future and the extension and what we wanted to do and all that stuff was starting to come together."
"I wouldn't be coming back to the seat and wanting to drive and excited about driving cars if there was any risk other than the typical risk that every driver faces on Sunday," said Earnhardt, who also suffered two concussions early in his career. "I feel very confident in what I've seen in myself, my improvement and I feel confident in what my doctors tell me about my future."
Earnhardt said he does not expect he will have to undergo any additional tests because of his concussion history if he gets into a crash other than the evaluation given to any other driver. "I have a personal responsibility to myself, to be smart, make great decisions for myself," Earnhardt said. "My health is No. 1. ... I'm not going to take any unnecessary risks with my own health." The driver said beyond having a new helmet, he also has not changed any of his safety devices inside the race car. During the test Wednesday, Earnhardt would drive the car for 15-30 laps and then would be evaluated by his doctor during a 20-minute break. The test lasted about five hours, and Earnhardt said it helped him build his confidence. Earnhardt will test again Jan. 31-Feb. 1 at Phoenix International Raceway.(ESPN.com), read the complete transcript of Earnhardt, Jr's teleconference.(12-9-2016)

Earnhardt, Jr. medically cleared to return to racing: Following a test session Wednesday afternoon at Darlington Raceway, Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been medically cleared to resume NASCAR competition after making a full recovery from a concussion. He will return for the beginning of the 2017 season at the Feb. 26 Daytona 500. Earnhardt, 42, was cleared Wednesday evening by Dr. Micky Collins, medical director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program in Pittsburgh, in consultation with Charlotte neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty. Petty attended the test at the 1.366-mile South Carolina racetrack.
"Dale is one of the hardest-working patients I've ever encountered," Collins said. "He's done everything we've asked, and we believe he is ready to compete at a professional level again and can withstand the normal forces of a race car driver. Dale has been very open with us, and we've had plenty of time for his treatment, so we feel very good about his long-term prospects and how this has been managed by everyone involved."
Earnhardt, driver of the #88 Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports, completed 185 laps during a nearly five-hour session at Darlington under the guidance of his crew chief, Greg Ives. In addition to the on-track test, which was observed by NASCAR, the driver has logged more than 15 hours in a racing simulator during his recovery.
"I feel great, and I'm excited to officially be back," Earnhardt said. "I expected things to go really well yesterday, and that's exactly what happened. Actually getting in a race car was an important final step, and it gives me a ton of confidence going into 2017. Thanks to the staff at Darlington for hosting our team and to NASCAR for giving us the opportunity to put a car on the track. I'll do more testing in January to help knock the rust off. When it's time to go to Daytona, I'll be ready."
"Dale deserves so much credit," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "I'm proud of him for listening to his body and standing up to take responsibility for his health. He's worked extremely hard and set a terrific example for others. It's great news as we go into the off-season, and we can't wait to see him back on the racetrack at Daytona."
Bowman will race the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS in the Feb. 18 season-opening, non-points The Clash at Daytona International Speedway, which will feature pole position winners from the previous year. Bowman won the #88 team's lone 2016 pole at Phoenix in November.
"Alex did such a great job in the car this year, and I felt like he deserved another opportunity," Earnhardt said. "When I spoke with Rick and the team about him driving The Clash, everyone agreed that he more than earned it, and Nationwide was 100-percent on board. I'm really grateful to him and Jeff for what they did for our team, and I'm glad Alex is getting another run with us."(Hendrick Motorsports)(12-8-2016)

Bowman to run the Clash at Daytona: ESPN's Bob Pockrass Tweeted: Rick Hendrick said Alex Bowman would compete in The Clash at Daytona, he's just not sure for who/what car.(ESPN), Bowman is eligible after winning the pole at Phoenix in November, subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr., out with a concussion.(12-5-2016)

Earnhardt Jr. confident ahead of upcoming private test: "I feel 100 percent," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Friday after accepting the NMPA Most Popular Driver award during the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards at the Wynn Las Vegas. "I don't feel we're going to have any issues." Earnhardt, 42, missed the final 18 races of the 2016 Sprint Cup season because of a concussion in June that impacted his vision and balance. He plans to return for the 2017 Daytona 500 as long as NASCAR-approved on-track tests don't trigger any symptoms. Earnhardt will do a private half-day test this month in which he won't be able to have data-acquisition sensors on the car in order to limit any advantage the organization gets from the private test. The test had not been allowed until NASCAR made a rule earlier this year that permits a private test following injury. "I had balance and vision issues and some nausea when I was going through the illness, so we'll just make sure that I don't have any vision issues and no nausea," Earnhardt said. "I don't expect anything, because I've been through the simulator several times. I was getting sick in the simulator before I was injured. I have been able to do the simulator without any nausea or any vision issues at all." If things go well, Earnhardt will do the NASCAR open test Jan. 31-Feb. 1 at Phoenix International Raceway. Earnhardt said he probably will have a doctor at the first test but that he shouldn't need a follow-up examination if he feels fine during the test.(ESPN)(12-3-2016)

Earnhardt voted Most Popular Driver for 14th consecutive year: Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s hot streak in Las Vegas continued Friday night. The driver of the #88 Chevy was named the National Motorsports Press Association Sprint Most Popular Driver for the 14th consecutive year, extending his record streak. "That's pretty cool," Earnhardt said to open his acceptance speech. Earnhardt's 14 consecutive wins mark the longest streak since the award was first presented in 1953. Bill Elliott -- Chase's father -- holds the record for all-time Most Popular Driver honors with 16. He was presented with the award at the black-tie NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards held at Wynn Las Vegas.
The award is determined solely by fan voting, and Earnhardt said it was especially touching to know that his fans supported him even during a year in which he missed the second half of the season due to a concussion. "This year was a difficult year for us and our team," Earnhardt said. "You think you know just how incredible the NASCAR fans are and how supportive they are. You see them support the drivers through victories and through defeat. But when you go through recovery from an injury or maybe the loss of a loved one or something like that, you really get to the core of what's great about our fan base." Earnhardt's 2016 season came to an end when he was sidelined after the race at Kentucky Speedway in July. In the 18 races in which he participated, he earned five top-five finishes -- including four runner-up results -- and six top-10s. "I want to thank the fans for all the support and all the well-wishes," he said. "It really motivated me to get healthy and it also motivated me to come back. I'm looking forward to next year."(Hendrick Motorsports)(12-3-2016)

Dale Jr. wedding date announced: While in Las Vegas for the Sprint Cup Series Awards ceremony in Las Vegas, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. confirmed when he and fiancée Amy Reimann are tying the knot. The longtime couple are set to wed on New Year's Eve. No wedding location was revealed.(NASCAR.com)(12-3-2016)

Earnhardt Jr. close to returning after worrying 'I may never race again': A few months from believing he "may never race again" in NASCAR, Dale Earnhardt Jr. now believes he is only a few weeks from being cleared to return. The Hendrick Motorsports driver, who missed the last half of the 2016 season after suffering a concussion, said he hopes to turn laps in a December test and again in a January session before racing his #88 Chevy in the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 26. Earnhardt declined to specify where the tests would occur but intimated they were the final steps he alluded to last week on his podcast. "Basically, the test in December would be the final box checked," he told NBC Sports in a Tuesday interview at Hendrick Motorsports, where he unveiled a new paint scheme he designed with primary sponsor Nationwide for the 2017 season. "Once that's done, I am jumping into the hamster wheel again. I'm excited." In his first extensive comments since a late August news conference to announce he would miss the rest of the 2016 season, Earnhardt revealed the depths of his long recovery from a concussion that he sustained in a June 12 wreck at Michigan International Speedway. It was at least the fifth concussion that Earnhardt has sustained during his NASCAR career, but the severity of the symptoms were enough to worry the 13-time most popular driver that his career was over. "I mean I went through some really doubtful moments with this whole process when I was not doing well and my symptoms were really, really bad, and they lingered," he said. "I'd never had the symptoms stay that long. I was thinking, 'I may never race again. I don't know how this is going to end.' So I went from not knowing if I could do it to having to build my confidence back one little Lego at a time." Earnhardt said the symptoms, which centered on problems with balance and vision (known as "gaze stability"), began to dissipate over the past month. During the photo shoot Tuesday, he wasn't wearing the thick, black glasses that he often wore in public during his recovery.(see more at NBC Sports)(12-2-2016)

Earnhardt Jr. plans to get in a car soon and test: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. discussed Monday -- one day into the 2016 NASCAR offseason -- his plans to get back inside the race car on the Dirty Mo Radio podcast. "We're going to go testing this offseason," he said. "Obviously I need to get in a race car. I'd love to get in a car and go run a little bit somewhere just to shake the rust off and get some confidence. I can do the basics before we ever go to Daytona. We'll go do that sometime this offseason. We have to squeeze it in there somewhere because I'm getting married and have my honeymoon, and I have to certainly devote proper time to (fiancée) Amy (Reimann). But it'll be no problem. ... All signs point to us being in the car for Daytona." The Hendrick Motorsports wheelman, who was sidelined for 18 Sprint Cup Series races this year due to a concussion, has not stepped inside his #88 Chevrolet since July.(NASCAR.com)(11-22-2016)

Bowman talks about 2017 prospects: #88-Alex Bowman, met with members of the media Friday at Phoenix International Raceway. He discussed his role driving the #88 Chevy, his future plans in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and other topics. The transcript in part:
Q) DO YOU HAVE A DRIVE IN PLACE FOR 2017?
Bowman: "No, I'm still waiting for the right opportunity to come along. There's nothing that has really fit that has come along. I'll still probably have my day job at Hendrick Motorsports driving the simulator. We'll go from there."
Q) THIS SEASON, STEPPING INTO THE NO. 88 CHEVROLET WASN'T THE EASIEST SITUATION TO STEP INTO BUT YOU'VE GOTTEN SOME SIGNIFICANT SEATTIME IN A QUALITY RIDE. WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED THE MOST IN THE WHOLE PROCESS OF DRIVING THE #88 CHEVROLET?
Bowman: "Really it's been a big learning process on how Hendrick Motorsports works - the process on doing things, how they operate as a team. It's been incredible to be a part of it, and I feel like I've learned a lot doing it. It's been a lot of fun and a huge blessing in my life to do this. I'm trying to make the most of it but at the same time trying to have as much fun as I can. You never know when this is going to end or if you're ever going to get an opportunity like this again. So it's been a lot of fun."(Team Chevy)(11-12-2016)

Dale Jr. making plans for 2017: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. met with members of the media Sunday:
Q: In your conversations with sponsors have you start committing to things for next year?
Earnhardt, Jr. "My intentions are to race and that is the plan that we have going forward so we are booking things as normal per usual. We are doing all our photoshoots and everything with anticipation of our sponsors marketing me as the driver of the #88 car. I think that is perfectly on track and a reasonable goal to be in the car and be competing in Daytona. We can't sort of sit and wait. We've got to make a decision. Those types of things have to be decided quite early. So, we are moving forward with the plan to be in the car and I don't see anything that says that is not going to happen. Things are good."(Team Chevy)(10-31-2016)

Gordon's final race? UPDATE: Sunday will mark four-time champion Jeff Gordon's final scheduled NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start. Gordon will be driving the blue-and-silver #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS this weekend. His career began on Nov. 15, 1992, at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Richard Petty's final start. From 1992 through 2015, Gordon made 797 consecutive starts and racked up 93 wins, 325 top-five and 475 top-10 finishes in addition to his four championships. This weekend's race at Martinsville Speedway will be his eighth race filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2016. On Nov. 1, 2015, Gordon led the final 22 laps at Martinsville Speedway en route to his ninth win at the Virginia short track and his 93rd career Cup victory. The defending race winner leads all active Cup drivers in wins (nine, third on the all-time list), poles (seven, second on the all-time list), top-five finishes (29), and laps led (3,779, second on the all-time list). He is tied with Richard Petty for the most top-10 Cup finishes of all time with 37, and holds the all-time record for lead-lap finishes (38) and for the least DNFs, having been running at the finish in every single one of his 46 races at the half-mile paperclip.(Hendrick Motorsports)
AND: If Gordon leads 64 laps on Sunday, he will become only the sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver all-time to lead 25,000 or more laps, joining NASCAR Hall of Famers Petty, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt and David Pearson.(NASCAR)(10-27-2016)
UPDATE: Gordon talked to the media Friday at Martinsville Speedway and was asked if this was his final race;
Gordon: "Your guess is as good as mine. I can promise you I had no intentions of this happening, but here I am. Never say never is all I know what to say. I really don't think that I will be getting back in the Cup car again, but go ask Rick Hendrick. That really has more to do with him than anything else. I hope in the future that the drivers don't have a situation like what we had with (Dale Earnhardt) Junior where they need somebody to fill in for them. This little bit of experience has been kind of good for me, good for the organization and we have had a little bit of fun with it as well. If I had to do it, then certainly I would, but I don't anticipate it."(Team Chevy PR)(10-29-2016)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. acquires roof from dad's 1982 car: Dale Earnhardt Jr. is continuing to build his collection of meaningful memorabilia during his time off from NASCAR. In a Twitter post on Tuesday, the driver posted a photo of a roof from a dirt car his father drove in 1982 that he's adding to his collection.(USA Today)(10-21-2016)

Earnhardt Jr. says he will race the #88 in 2017: Dale Earnhardt Jr. reiterated on Wednesday that he continues to have every intention of returning to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to drive the #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy in 2017, beginning with the season-opening Daytona 500 next February. Earnhardt, who has been sidelined since early July because of a concussion and will not return for the remainder of this season, spoke at a promotional event (Jeansboro Day) Wednesday at the corporate headquarters of Wrangler.(FoxSports)(10-19-2016)

Earnhardt, Jr. gives medical update: #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. met with members of the media Sunday afternoon at Darlington Raceway. He was joined by team owner Rick Hendrick and Dr. Mikey Collins. Some notes:
Earnhardt, Jr.:
Recovery is going good and he's noticing improvements.
His balance is miles better than it was.
He's looking forward to getting well and definitely on the right track.
He expected a shorter recovery time, but says he still doesn't belong in a racecar by any stretch of the imagination.
There's no reason to risk getting back in the car and getting into a situation where all the hard work is reversed.
He is doing all sponsor commitments. The only thing he can't do is race.
"I haven't really put a lot of thought into the future until I get well. My heart wants me to continue. I'm only 41. I have some good years left. I'm as good as I've ever been, inside the car."
Dr. Collins:
Concussion research has come a long way. When he first saw Earnhardt, Jr. he "was pretty sick", but he has been a model patient.
Earnhardt, Jr. is feeling better and having fewer symptoms, but is not back to normal.
Taking him out of the car the rest of the year will reduce stress. "Stress and concussion don't get along well.
They are starting to see a lot of progress since the decision was made to sit out the remainder of the season.
He says, "I am positive we will get Dale back to being a race car driver."
Hendrick:
"We're excited about Dale Earnhardt being in the car at Daytona," and the team is looking forward to long future with him.
There's a lot of time between now and Daytona, when it comes to figuring out the future of the #88.
Sponsors have been good to work with. They care about Earnhardt, Jr. personally and want to see him get better.
Transcript see a full record of the press conference on the Dale Earnhardt, Jr. press conference transcript page.(9-4-2016)

Gordon explains #88 driver schedule for rest of year: Sunday's race will mark the fifth for Jeff Gordon in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is out for the rest of the season while recovering from a concussion. Hendrick Motorsports announced Friday the #88 Chevrolet will be split for the final 12 races between Alex Bowman and Gordon. The four-time series champion will race Earnhardt's car in the next two races at Darlington and Richmond before turning the car over to Bowman for 10 of the last 12 races. Gordon will race again at Dover and Martinsville - tracks where he has combined for 14 victories. Though the schedule lines up well with his strengths, Gordon said it wasn't solely set by his preference. Bowman will race New Hampshire Motor Speedway because he already filled in for Earnhardt there in July. Because of schedule conflicts, Gordon can't race at some 1.5-mile tracks, so it made more sense to keep Bowman at all of them.
"It'd be best for the team for him to be in all of those," Gordon said. "We know he's a talented driver, too, and want to see what he's capable of doing. He does a lot of work in the simulator for us. Matching up actual race data and conditions to the simulator helps us develop the simulator, too." Making the schedule was a collaborative effort involving The input from multiple sources. "It's a combination of what's best for the team, what's best for the sponsors and sort of Junior's wishes as well," Gordon said. "He's big on Alex Bowman, and the team has really enjoyed having him in the car. We want to make sure our sponsors are getting everything out of it as well. They do a lot for us.(NBC Sports)(9-4-2016)

Earnhardt, Jr. to miss remainder of the season: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports, has not been medically cleared to compete for the remainder of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season as he continues to recover from a concussion. Earnhardt has missed the last six Sprint Cup races while undergoing treatment. He has been regularly evaluated at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program under the direction of Dr. Micky Collins and with Charlotte neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty.
"I wish I could return to the #88 team this season," Earnhardt said. "To say I'm disappointed doesn't begin to describe how I feel, but I know this is the right thing for my long-term health and career. I'm 100 percent focused on my recovery, and I will continue to follow everything the doctors tell me. They're seeing good progress in my test results, and I'm feeling that progress physically. I plan to be healthy and ready to compete at Daytona in February. I'm working toward that.
"The support from both inside and outside the race team has been overwhelming. Everyone has been so encouraging and positive, from my teammates and sponsors to my family, friends and fans. It's motivating and humbling at the same time."
Jeff Gordon and Alex Bowman will drive for the #88 team in the season's 12 remaining races. In Earnhardt's absence, four-time Cup Series champion Gordon, 45, filled in at Indianapolis, Pocono, Watkins Glen and Bristol. Bowman, 23, drove at New Hampshire and Michigan.
"I know how hard Dale has worked and how frustrating this is for him," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "He wants to be back, and we want him back, but we want it to be for the long haul. We've had incredible support from everyone involved with the team, including all of our sponsors. They've put Dale's health first every step of the way."
"Jeff and Alex will give us a great opportunity over the rest of the season. Jeff is one of the best of all time and knows our system. He brings things to the table that no one else can. Alex is a young driver with a lot of talent, and he will give us a fresh perspective. We know they're not only capable of running up front and giving us a chance to win, but they'll help us get better."(Hendrick Motorsports)(9-2-2016)

Bowman grateful for a chance to drive: Though he would prefer to be in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car under other circumstances, Alex Bowman hopes to make the most of his second chance to drive the #88 Chevy of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is still awaiting medical clearance after suffering concussion-like symptoms that have kept him out of the car. Bowman subbed for Earnhardt at New Hampshire in July, running in the top 10 for much of the race, before a crash relegated him to 26th. Jeff Gordon took over the seat for the next four races, but a scheduling conflict kept Gordon out of the car at Michigan and gave Bowman his second shot. "Honestly, for me being as close of friends as I am with Dale, I have just been hoping he gets to feeling better more than anything," Bowman said Friday at Michigan. "Obviously, I'm more than happy to fill in whenever I can. New Hampshire was a lot of fun. Obviously, we ran a lot better than we finished. I hated that the race team didn't get the finish they deserved. Everybody at Hendrick Motorsports and Chevy and everybody-they have been so welcoming and easy to work with. It's just been fun. Off the truck today we were really fast (14th in opening practice) and didn't really get the qualifying run speed that we really wanted. But I feel like we have a good shot at it this weekend. It's just so much fun to be able to come to a (Sprint) Cup race and be able to say that. I'm just really enjoying it and trying to make the most out of it."(NASCAR Wire Service)(8-27-2016)

Gordon to make 800th Cup start: Jeff Gordon, who will be driving the #88 Axalta Chevy at Watkins Glen, will make his 800th career NASCAR Cup Series start this weekend, which is 9th all-time. He has made all 799 of his career Cup starts while driving for car owner Rick Hendrick. In addition to his four championships (1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001), Gordon has earned 93 Cup victories, which ranks him third on the all-time wins list. He's a three-time Daytona 500 winner, a record five-time Brickyard 400 winner and has seven wins at Darlington Raceway. He has racked up 81 poles, which also ranks him third on the all-time pole award winner's list, 325 top-five finishes, 475 top-10s and has led a total of 24,929 laps in his 24-year career.(HMS), see full all-time list on the All-Time / Consecutive Starts page.(8-4-2016)

Earnhardt, Jr believes concussion happened at Michigan UPDATE: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. said his doctors believe his concussion-like symptoms started with his June 12 crash at Michigan International Speedway. "Obviously with my history of concussions, knowing the event I had in Michigan, that wreck right there is where they believe I picked up this issue," Earnhardt said Monday night on his weekly Dale Jr. Download podcast. "I didn't feel anything that next week. The off week, I went to Germany (on vacation), went to Sonoma, ran good, felt awesome. It was strange these symptoms came out of nowhere. But we started doing a lot of digging, and they seem to feel confident this occurred in Michigan."
"This is scary for me because of the way it's been different. I'm having balance issues. I've never had balance issues before. The eye issues with the stability, I've never had that before. It started very slowly, gradually and continued to progress until it stopped and stayed where it is. I don't know what tells me about how long this process is going to be. I felt I had a good understanding of concussions in the past, but this is certainly a new one. They all have different symptoms and own time and length of recovery is different."(NBC Sports)(8-2-2016)
UPDATE: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports, has not been cleared by physicians to compete in at least the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events as he continues to recover from a concussion. He will miss the races at Watkins Glen International (Aug. 7) and Bristol Motor Speedway (Aug. 20).
Earnhardt underwent further evaluation today at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program. The driver said Monday on his weekly "The Dale Jr. Download" podcast that he continues to experience issues with balance and gaze stabilization. "We have a break in the schedule after Watkins Glen, so the extra week of recovery time will certainly be a benefit," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "Dale will be back when he's ready, and we're looking forward to that happening, but the priority continues to be his health and well-being. We'll keep our focus on that and let the doctors guide us." Jeff Gordon will be the team's substitute driver at the Watkins Glen road course, where he will make his 800th career NASCAR Cup start, and Bristol. He is NASCAR's all-time leader with nine road course victories, including four at Watkins Glen. The four-time series champion, who has five wins at Bristol, has made all 799 of his career Cup starts while driving for car owner Hendrick.(HMS)(8-2-2016)

Top-20 drivers in merchandise sales released: This race weekend at Pocono Raceway marks the first anniversary of the Fanatics Trackside Superstore - the reimagined and improved at-track shopping experience. The Trackside Superstore offers fans a one-stop-shop every race weekend with the largest selection of in-store NASCAR merchandise in the world. Halfway through 2016, photo finishes, side-by-side racing and record passing as the Chase spots are clinched has driven interest in the telecast and engagement on digital and social as well as in driver merchandise sales. NASCAR fans take pride in flying the colors of their favorite drivers and the first-half merchandise sales results are officially tallied. The top three drivers are no surprise with #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. leading the rankings, followed by six-time Sprint Cup Series champion #48-Jimmie Johnson and defending champion #18-Kyle Busch. With rising stars like Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano and Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney, there are currently five drivers in the top-20 list who are 26 years of age or younger. The most popular products available at the Trackside Superstore include apparel, headwear and novelty items. Lionel's 1:64 scale die-casts are up 77 percent year-over-year, one of the largest growth trends across all categories at the Trackside Superstore.(NASCAR) The top 20: #88-Earnhardt, Jr., #48-Johnson, #18-Busch, #24-Elliott, #4-Harvick, #14-Stewart, #10-Patrick, #19-Edwards, #2-Keselowski, #5-Kahne, #22-Logano, #11-Hamlin, #20-Kenseth, #78-Truex, Jr., #41-Busch, #42-Larson, #31-Newman, #3-Dillon, #21-Blaney, #1-McMurray.(NASCAR)(7-27-2016)

Earnhardt, Jr. to miss at least two more races; Gordon to sub: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports, has not been cleared by physicians to compete in at least the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events as he continues to recover from concussion-like symptoms. He will miss the races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway. Four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon will be the team's substitute driver at Indianapolis and Pocono. He most recently raced in the 2015 Sprint Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Gordon, who grew up in Pittsboro, Indiana, ranks third all-time with 93 career victories in the series, including six at Pocono and five in the Brickyard 400 - both records. Earnhardt underwent further evaluation Tuesday at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program. The driver said this week on his "The Dale Jr. Download" podcast that he has been experiencing issues with balance and nausea. He will not travel to Indianapolis or Pocono. "Our focus is giving Dale all the time he needs to recover," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "There's nothing we want more than to see him back in the race car, but we'll continue to listen to the doctors and follow their lead. What's best for Dale is what's best for Hendrick Motorsports and everyone involved with the team. We're all proud of him and looking forward to having him racing soon." Gordon, 44, has made all 797 of his career Cup starts for car owner Hendrick. He competed in his 23rd and final full-time Sprint Cup Series season in 2015. "Jeff's a team player," Hendrick said. "I know he'll be ready, and I know Dale has incredible trust in him. It's going to be an emotional weekend (at Indianapolis) with Dale not being there and seeing Jeff back behind the wheel. Greg (Ives) and the team did a great job at New Hampshire, and they have the full support of our organization."(Hendrick Motorsports)(7-20-2016)

Earnhardt Jr. battling balance, nausea issues: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is suffering from balance issues and nausea, but a test that measures his cognitive function showed optimistic results, the Hendrick Motorsports driver said Sunday night. Earnhardt, speaking on his weekly race recap podcast "The Dale Jr. Download" released Monday, described what kept him out of the race car this past weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He did not give a timetable for his return from concussion-like symptoms, possibly caused by wrecks June 12 at Michigan and July 2 at Daytona. Earnhardt said the results of his ImPACT test, a 20-minute test that measures memory, reaction time, attention span and other cognitive skills, have matched his baseline, so that is encouraging.
"My results matched my baseline, which made me feel confident that my brain is pretty sharp; it feels good," Earnhardt said. "The symptoms I have are balance and nausea. I struggled with my balance over the last four, five days and I definitely wouldn't be able to drive a race car this weekend."
"They can give me a lot of exercises that retrain my brain to handle what I need to handle -- it's just going to take a lot of patience," Earnhardt said. "I take my health and quality of life as a top priority. ... I am going to take this slow and strictly take the advice of my doctors."(ESPN.com)(7-18-2016)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will not race at New Hampshire: Dale Earnhardt Jr. will not compete in the July 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after experiencing concussion-like symptoms. Earnhardt, driver of the #88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, was evaluated this week in Charlotte and today was not cleared by physicians to race. Alex Bowman will be the team's substitute driver this weekend at New Hampshire.
"I wasn't feeling great the week going into Kentucky (Speedway) and thought it was possibly severe allergies," Earnhardt said. "I saw a family doctor and was given medication for allergies and a sinus infection. When that didn't help, I decided to dig a little deeper. Because of my symptoms and my history with concussions, and after my recent wrecks at Michigan and Daytona, I reached out and met with a neurological specialist. After further evaluation, they felt it was best for me to sit out."
"I'm disappointed about missing New Hampshire this weekend. I'm looking forward to treatment with the goal of getting back in the race car when the doctors say I'm ready."
A timetable for Earnhardt's return has not been established. Hendrick Motorsports will provide an update next week regarding plans for the July 24 event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"I'm proud of Dale for standing up," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "The number-one priority is his health, so we're going to give him all the time he needs. We completely support the decision by the doctors and will be ready to go win races when he's 100 percent. In the meantime, we have full confidence in Greg (Ives) and the team, and we know they'll do a great job."(Hendrick Motorsports)(7-14-2016)

Earnhardt, Jr. comments on his contract:
Q: As you get older in your career, you see guys like Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, your contemporaries calling it quits. Do you see yourself racing past your current contract with Hendrick Motorsports once it expires after 2017?
Earnhardt: Well, I think that I have some interest to do that. It's something that we haven't started to sit down and talk about. We will see what Rick wants to do with his direction, what his future is for the team. We will see if that lines up with what I want to do. I don't think I will race as long as my dad did, but I have been having a lot of fun over the past couple of years. I would hate to walk away from such a good opportunity prematurely, but when it comes down to it, Rick is the boss and what his future and direction of the team is important to me. I'm sure we will get talking about what we want to do past this contract in the next six months.
Q: I know before you've mentioned that you would like to race XFINITY and Trucks once you walk away from Cup. Do you still want to do that?
Earnhardt: I want to run in the XFINITY Series for JR Motorsports as long as it helps the company. I think it would be racing a late model race here and there with the late model program. That's reasonably affordable and would probably enjoy doing that on and off into my 50s and 60s if that's what you wish. I think if I had an itch to scratch, that would be a good way to do it.
(Frontstretch)(6-4-2016)

Drivers ranked on ESPN World Fame 100: It started off with a simple question: Who's the most famous athlete in the world? Ben Alamar, ESPN's director of sports analytics, devised a formula that combines salary and endorsements with social media following and Google search popularity to create the ESPN World Fame 100 rankings. The names might be familiar, but where the planet's biggest stars land on the list could surprise you. The #1 athlete is soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo. Motorsports drivers on the list include:
57. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (NASCAR)
58. Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR)
59. Lewis Hamilton (Formula 1)
63. Danica Patrick (NASCAR)
75. Fernando Alonso (Formula 1)
77. Tony Stewart (NASCAR)
94. Kyle Busch (NASCAR)
97. Kimi Raikkonen (Formula 1)
(ESPN.com)(6-2-2016)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. takes a side in family feud: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is not happy with his stepmother - again. Earnhardt told Scott Fowler as part of an exclusive Charlotte Observer interview Thursday that he was siding with his half-brother over his stepmother in a legal dispute. The issue: Whether Kerry Earnhardt can use his last name to market homes that he and his wife Rene helped design as part of a series of houses to be built by Schumacher homes. "Obviously, I'm in support of my brother," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. Kerry Earnhardt plans to call the homes "The Earnhardt Collection." Teresa Earnhardt - Kerry and Dale's stepmother and the widow of Dale Earnhardt Sr. - doesn't want that name used because she believes it could be confused as an endorsement or sponsorship by the estate of her late husband. A legal fight has dragged on for several years about this. Teresa Earnhardt's lawyers recently filed an appeal in federal court after a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruling denied Teresa Earnhardt's challenge to the "Earnhardt Collection" trademark applied for by Kerry Earnhardt. Dale Earnhardt Jr. said that Kerry deserves to be able to use his own last name on the line of homes. "This is a business venture that he's put a lot of effort and heart and soul in that I think he deserves," Dale Jr. said of Kerry. "So in this particular case, I side with my brother and his belief to be able to use the name as is - without any alterations or changes."(See full article / interview at the Charlotte Observer)(5-28-2016)

Kerry, Teresa Earnhardt in battle over last name UPDATE: Teresa Earnhardt, known for being staunchly protective of the Dale Earnhardt brand and marks, is trying to keep a couple from using "Earnhardt" in the name of homes they developed. That couple? Dale Earnhardt's son Kerry Earnhardt and Kerry's wife, Rene. Teresa Earnhardt, Kerry's stepmother and Dale's widow, doesn't want the couple to use the name Earnhardt Collection and filed an appeal last week in federal court over a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruling that denied Teresa's challenge to the "Earnhardt Collection" trademark applied for by Kerry Earnhardt Inc.
"Rene and I have worked extremely hard to develop the Earnhardt Collection brand and make it uniquely ours," Kerry Earnhardt said in a statement to ESPN.com "I chose to leave a successful career in racing and could not be happier with what we've been able to achieve in the five years we've been building our home lifestyle brand inspired by our love of the outdoors."
Teresa Earnhardt didn't testify in the [trademark] case but states in her appeal that the name Earnhardt Collection is likely to deceive or cause confusion among people that the homes and products are endorsed by Dale Earnhardt or by her. Kelley Earnhardt-Miller, daughter of Dale and second wife Brenda Jackson, testified that no one has confused the Earnhardt Collection of being associated with her brother, Dale Earnhardt Jr.(ESPN.com)(5-7-2016)
UPDATE: Teresa Earnhardt has battled for four years to try to get her stepson Kerry Earnhardt to change the name for a collection of homes Kerry and his wife design and promote through the "Earnhardt Collection" brand. Why? Her attorneys issued a statement approved by Dale Earnhardt Inc., which has been solely owned by Teresa since the seven-time Sprint Cup champion's death on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. "The naming of any project called 'Earnhardt Collection' causes confusion as being associated with Dale Earnhardt, as the Dale Earnhardt brands and marks are so diverse across multiple industries and philanthropic causes. ... [And it] could be used to exclude Dale Earnhardt Inc., the designated steward of Dale's legacy, from the same use," law firm Alston & Bird said in its statement. It went on to say it has not requested any payment from Kerry Earnhardt. "By not coordinating these [trademark] activities rightfully, these individuals and entities fail to recognize the true legacy of Dale Earnhardt," the statement said about anyone who attempts to use the Dale Earnhardt and Earnhardt marks. Could there be a settlement? Well, take this for what it's worth: A Kerry Earnhardt filing Thursday stated that Kerry and his wife are open to mediation. Teresa? Her filing states: "The parties have to date been unable to settle their dispute. Further mediation would not be fruitful."(ESPN.com)(5-14-2016)

Earnhardt Jr. to donate brain for concussion research UPDATE: Following in the footsteps of many NFL players and extreme sports athletes, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Saturday [via Twitter]
he plans to donate his brain for concussion research. It's a major announcement, because Earnhardt is NASCAR's most popular driver - and has been the past 13 years. Earnhardt, 41, like many veteran NASCAR drivers, is no stranger to hard crashes and head injuries similar to what football players endured before being diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) post-mortem.(Sporting News), Earnhardt missed two races in October 2012, at Charlotte and Kansas after being diagnosed with a concussion following the Oct. 7, 2012 race at Talladega.(3-27-2016)
UPDATE: #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. discussed his decision more in-depth Friday at Martinsville:
AS FAR AS THE TWEET ABOUT DONATING YOUR BRAIN TO SCIENCE, IS THAT SOMETHING YOU KNEW YOU WERE GOING TO DO? OR IS THAT SOMETHING NEW? WHAT WOULD YOU HOPE PEOPLE WOULD LEARN FROM YOUR BRAIN?
Earnhardt, Jr. "Hopefully, they don't have to look at my brain whenever I pass away they have learned enough science to study the brains of living adults. Hopefully, the science has advanced enough to where they no longer need to be poking around inside my brain. I was inspired really by Brandi Chastain (professional soccer player) and the Raiders guys that donated their brains in honor of their teammate. I went through my experience in 2012 and met some amazing doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; Mickey Collins was one of those guys. They gave me the confidence going through that process that I could be successful and get through it. I have. I have been healthy and successful and I learned a ton. I may be even a better race car driver today and I'm definitely getting the results on the track that I've always wanted. I will be donating or pledging my brain is what they like to say to the Concussion Legacy Foundation. They are in partnership with Boston University where the brain bank is. I was a donor already for many years, as my driver's license would attest. It seemed like a reasonable thing to do for me. Anything that I can do to help others, but hopefully the science has advanced far beyond where it is today and they don't need it. It was something that I didn't have to ask myself whether I wanted to do it or not. Going through that process in 2012 I learned so much and have so much respect for the work that those doctors are doing and really were inspired by some of the athletes that have pledged their brains before me."
WAS YOUR TWEET THE OTHER NIGHT A SPUR OF THE MOMENT THING?
Earnhardt, Jr. "I saw a story, we obviously had the week off, and I was just sitting around reading Twitter and saw that story about the Raiders donating their brains. I just thought that was amazing that those guys did that in honor of their teammate. I read where Brandi (Chastain) had done that maybe a month ago. That just was really inspiring and I saw someone mention, I don't even know what the context of the Tweet I was responding to was. I probably should have, Mike Davis (JR Motorsports Public Relations) would prefer me to have done that in a more put together fashion where we could have put together a release or whatever. I just was in the moment of conversation and that is sometimes the comfort that you find yourself in on Twitter sometimes and I didn't expect it to turn into the story it did, but by all means if it raises more awareness and inspires people to donate their brains and pledge their brains. They don't need just athletes. They need everybody. I'm going to give up all the organs that are worth anything when it's over with. They can have it all."
"I got in touch with the Concussion Legacy Foundation and they help me understand exactly what the process is and it's very straight forward. You get a card, basically like you would carry around a driver's license where it says you are a donor on the license. There will be a card in your pocket that you carry like your driver's license. Your family can refuse. Nothing is binding so it's really just a promise in a way."(Chevy Racing PR)(4-2-2016)

NASCAR's Richest Teams and Drivers: Forbes has released its annual ranking of Sprint Cup teams and drivers based on earnings. Once again, Hendrick tops the charts. The top 10 teams and drivers and their estimated value:
Highest earning NASCAR teams:
Hendrick Motorsports $375 million
Joe Gibbs Racing $256 million
Stewart-Haas Racing $195 million
Richard Childress Racing $175 million
Roush Feneway Racing $155 million
Team Penske $140 million
Chip Ganassi Racing $75 million
Richard Petty Motorsports $55 million
Front Row Motorsports $26 million
BK Racing $24 million
Highest earning NASCAR drivers:
#88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. $23.5 million
#48-Jimmie Johnson $22.2 million
Jeff Gordon $21.6 million
#4-Kevin Harvick $15.5 million
#11-Denny Hamlin $15.1 million
#18-Kyle Busch $15.0 million
#10-Dania Patrick $13.4 million
#14-Tony Stewart $12.8 million
#19-Carl Edwards $12.1 million
#20-Matt Kenseth $11.9 million
Total earnings equals salary/winnings plus endorsements and licensing
In addition, Forbes estimates the actual cash value of a NASCAR charter to be $15-$17 million.(Forbes)(4-1-2016)

Bosch renews Hendrick partnership: Bosch Automotive Aftermarket North America has announced a multi-year renewal of its technical partnership with 11-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports. Dating back to 2001 with an agreement to supply spark plugs to the racing powerhouse, the scope of the relationship has since expanded to include alternators, starters, oxygen sensors, fuel injectors and fuel pumps. Entering its 16th season, this partnership has yielded seven Sprint Cup Series championships and a wealth of knowledge and insights. Hendrick Motorsports engine builders have worked closely with Bosch engineers over the years to develop some of the most powerful vehicles on the track.(Hendrick Motorsports)(3-1-2016)

Hendrick will not look to replace Stewart-Haas business: Hendrick Motorsports won't look to replace the engine lease program and the chassis business it will lose when Stewart-Haas Racing moves to Ford starting next season, but it also does not plan to lay off any employees. Team owner Rick Hendrick said Sunday that the decision "kind of caught me by surprise" but it was no surprise that another manufacturer would go after SHR. It will make for an interesting year as SHR remains a customer but one that will start building its own chassis and leasing engines from Roush Yates Engines next year. Hendrick, speaking prior to the Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, said his team is committed to working with SHR this year and will move on after the season. That doesn't mean looking for new people to sell chassis and lease engines. HMS leases engines to two-car organizations HScott Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing. It also supplies engines and support to JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series. HScott Motorsports plans to remain a Hendrick affiliate next year, said team owner Harry Scott, whose team also has an affiliation with Stewart-Haas Racing this season. "We've been pretty much taxed to keep up with all the customers we have," Hendrick said. "I think what we're going to do now is turn our efforts inward and do more R&D and give us a chance to do more, really, research and development than we've been doing in the last couple of years because our guys have been flat-out. While the team will fulfill the terms of its contracts with SHR, Hendrick said he expects SHR to begin the process of working on its own chassis this year. Losing the SHR business likely would cost Hendrick tens of millions of dollars, but Hendrick said his company has the ability to compensate for the lost business.(ESPN.com)(2-29-2016)

Goodyear, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Expand Relationship: The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company announced that #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be the featured expert who chooses Goodyear tires on and off the track in a series of broadcast, digital and print ads. "We've already had a relationship due to the confidence that I have in Goodyear tires on the track with the 88 car and on the street with my own personal car," said Earnhardt Jr. "There's a huge trust factor that we've had for a really long time, so this feels like a continuation of something that has been going on for a while." Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR's most popular driver 13 years running and one of America's favorite athletes, has accomplished his significant racing achievements on Goodyear tires including his first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory in 2000 and Daytona 500 victories in 2004 and 2014.
The creative materials draw on Earnhardt Jr.'s deep personal connection with the Goodyear brand. In the television spot, through a heartfelt message about hard work, tradition and pride, Earnhardt Jr. highlights the tenets of Goodyear's involvement in NASCAR - the continuous learning that is achieved through all of the drivers and the ability to deliver superior performing tires both on and off the track. Goodyear will amplify the creative with a robust media plan and social media support.(Goodyear)(2-20-2016)

WIX Filters joins Hendrick as technical partner: WIX Filters has joined Hendrick Motorsports as a key technical partner with an agreement that will supply innovative filtration products and provide critical development support to the 11-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions through 2019. With a four-year pact, WIX's air and oil filters will be used in competition by the four Sprint Cup Series teams of Hendrick Motorsports with drivers Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Its logo will be featured on team equipment, transporters and underneath the hood of Hendrick Motorsports' Chevrolet SS race cars. "Since the early 1960s when Richard Petty began using our filters, generations of motor sports champions have driven to victory lane with WIX," said Jennifer Gibson, brand manager for WIX Filters. "Adding a team like Hendrick Motorsports only further positions us as the number-one filter in motor sports, and we couldn't be more excited to see what that means on the track this season."(Hendrick Motorsports)(1-19-2016)

#88 team gets new chief engineer: Hendrick Motorsports confirmed the hiring of Tim O'Brien as the new engineer of the #88 Chevy for Dale Earnhardt Jr next season. O'Brien joined Hendrick in late November after a stint at Michael Waltrip Racing, which included serving as the lead engineer for the #55 Toyota this season. The Fort Wayne, Indiana native joined MWR and driver Clint Bowyer in 2012 after a healthy tenure at Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates from 2005 to 2011. He earned a mechanical engineering degree from Purdue University and soon joined Ganassi's IndyCar program before leaping to his XFINITY Series program with driver Reed Sorenson. He has worked alongside veteran crew chief Brian Pattie for the past 10 seasons. O'Brien replaces Kevin Meendering who left HMS for a crew chief role at JR Motorsports and driver Elliott Sadler next season.(Catchfence)(12-15-2015)

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. wins Most Popular Driver Award: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. collected his 13th consecutive NMPA Sprint Most Popular Driver award Friday during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' annual Awards Ceremony held at the Wynn Las Vegas. Earnhardt is the only driver to have won the award since 16-time winner Bill Elliott was named the recipient at the conclusion of the 2002 season. Earnhardt was awarded the trophy and the National Motorsports Press Association will donate $10,000 in Earnhardt's name to the charity of his choice. NASCAR fans cast 410,000 votes during the year's 11-week voting window that ended with the Sprint Cup Series finale race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22. The NMPA Sprint Most Popular Driver award completed its 63rd season, making it one of the oldest awards presented in NASCAR. The fan-driven contest is the only major award in NASCAR determined solely by race fans. "NASCAR fans are the greatest in all of sports," said NMPA President Brian Nelson, "and I'm delighted that Sprint and the NMPA have given them an opportunity to voice their support. The fans spoke loud and clear, and it's obvious they support Dale Jr." Voting totals increased 14 percent over 2014 in spite of a shorter voting window, and more than 40 Sprint Cup Series drivers received one or more votes this season. Race fans were encouraged to vote daily online and using the NASCAR Mobile app. "It is our duty as an organization to provide NASCAR fans with the best possible platform in which to participate, and to provide them with the best possible experience," said Nelson. The award is sponsored by Sprint, the entitlement sponsor and official wireless partner of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.(NMPA)(12-5-2015)

Dale Jr.'s wedding will be after 2016 season: Dale Earnhardt Jr. won't be having a June 2016 wedding. Although NASCAR's Most Popular Driver tried to use his influence with the sanctioning body to expedite the release of the 2016 Sprint Cup schedule to select a date for his upcoming nuptials, Earnhardt and his fiancee Amy Reimann are likely looking at a winter wedding. "We haven't set a date," Earnhardt told Motorsport.com. "We know what time of year we want to do it - and it's probably going to be in next year's off-season. We have a long-time to plan things out. We've just kind of small-talked some venues - where and when - but we haven't sat down and talked about real plans. We've got to start soon though because it's going to be here before you know it. We were thinking about doing it next summer but then the schedule changes every year and we didn't want the race to fall on our anniversary. So we're going to do it in the off-season so we'll have the opportunity to celebrate it however we want."(Motorsport)(12-5-2016)

Hendrick Motorsports receives MAHLE Engine Builder of the Year Award: The NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers 2015 Awards Luncheon was a big one for Hendrick Motorsports. First, Jeff Gordon was presented with the very first Chevrolet Lifetime Achievement Award. #88 crew chief Greg Ives was then named the MOOG Steering and Suspension Problem Solver of the Year. In between both awards, Hendrick Motorsports was honored with the MAHLE Engine Builder of the Year Award for the 19th time. In particular, engine assembler Sam Vernatter was singled out as the winner of the award. Points toward the Engine Builder of the Year Award were granted after every race based on qualifying and finishing position, with bonus points for the team that led the most laps. "Randy Dorton started the legacy of Hendrick Motorsports and it lives daily in Jeff Andrews, Jim Wall, Scott Maxim and David Evans," Vernatter said. "Their leadership paves the way for our success." Hendrick Motorsports engines powered five of the top 12 finishing teams at the end of the 2015 season, including two of the top three.(Hendrick Motorsports)(12-4-2015)

Greg Ives receives MOOG 'Problem Solver of the Year' Award: Greg Ives, crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the Hendrick Motorsports-owned #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, received Federal-Mogul Motorparts' prestigious MOOG "Problem Solver of the Year" Award - including a handcrafted MOOG ball joint trophy and a check for $100,000 - during the NASCAR Sprint Cup NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Ceremony in Las Vegas. Ives is the eighth recipient of the award, which honors the crew chief with the best overall performance during the Sprint Cup season. MOOG is the Official Steering and Suspension of NASCAR. Ives won the year-end MOOG award after earning a series-leading five weekly MOOG "Problem Solver of the Race" Awards. The weekly Problem Solver award is presented to the crew chief whose car delivers the greatest second-half improvement in average lap time while finishing on the lead lap. Runner-up for the Problem Solver of the Year award, with four weekly MOOG wins, was Justin Alexander, crew chief for Paul Menard and the #27 Chevrolet SS. A record 20 different crew chiefs won at least one weekly Problem Solver award. The MOOG brand, celebrating its 50th year of Cup racing, is the preferred choice of professional technicians and NASCAR crew chiefs. In recognition of the vital importance of steering and suspension components in overall vehicle safety and performance, NASCAR now mandates that Cup teams use MOOG Problem Solver parts, specifically ball joints and tie rod ends.(Federal-Mogul Motorparts)(12-4-2015)

Hendrick Motorsports names new Manager of Aerodynamics: Diane Holl is the new manager of aerodynamics for Hendrick Motorsports. Holl, 51, joined HMS last month after eight seasons at Michael Waltrip Racing where she served as Director of Vehicle Design. After earning her degree in mechanical engineering, the Guildford, England native's career started in Formula 1 with Ferrari as a chassis designer in 1987. Holl returned to England in 2002, where she worked with the McLaren Group as Principle Engineer. She returned to the U.S. five years later to join MWR. Holl replaces Kurt Romberg, who has since taken a similar role at Roush Fenway Racing.(Motorsports)(12-3-2015)

Hendrick Motorsports and Freightliner Trucks extend deal: Freightliner Trucks has announced a five-year contract extension with 11-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports. In addition, the company announced a new five-year contract with defending NASCAR XFINITY Series champions JR Motorsports. Both racing teams now have agreements with Freightliner through the 2020 NASCAR season. With the Hendrick Motorsports partnership renewal, the team's over-the-road drivers will continue to stay behind the wheel of their custom Freightliner trucks to carry race cars, supplies and equipment to Sprint Cup events across the United States.(HMS)(11-14-2015)

Congrats to Ray & Erin Evernham on the birth of their daughter, Cate Susan Evernham, Saturday morning. Evernham works at Hendrick Motorsports.(7-25-2015)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. [the band] changes name: After years spent named after the nonexistent son of a famous race car driver who himself is already the son of yet another famous driver, the band Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. has decided to change its name. According to a post on its website, the group will now be known as JR JR, with its two members claiming they've grown out of the gimmicky moniker. With a new album on the way in the semi-near future, the move could be a smart one. Then again, changing a band's name midway through its career might also be confusing to its already existing fans. In its Facebook post, the group makes it clear that the name change has nothing to do with the actual Dale Earnhardt Jr., choosing to include a letter he sent them in 2011 where he says he's not only cool with their name, but actually enjoys their music.(A.V. Club)(7-16-2015)


Born to Win Print..by Garry Hill:
Dale Earnhardt Jr. In The #8 Dale Earnhardt Inc.
Chevy Takes The Checkered Flag In The
46th Running Of The Daytona 500
"The Great American Race" February 15, 2004
It is with great excitement that we [Garry Hill] present "Born To Win". The artwork captures Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s historic victory in the 2004 Daytona 500,"The Great American Race". 500 prints and 50 artist's proof prints have been produced, each signed and numbered by NASCAR licensed artist Garry Hill. 100 Prints And 50 Artist's Proof Prints are Being Hand Signed By Winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. More info and to see the print, go to garryhill.com.(2-16-2005)

#88 Team News Archive