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Sources: Truex finalizes agreement to return to DEI next season

INDIANAPOLIS -- Martin Truex Jr. is officially out of the job market.

Truex finalized an agreement on Wednesday to return to Dale Earnhardt Inc. next season with other longer-term plans in place, sources close to the situation said.

Truex will discuss his joining forces with DEI on Friday at Watkins Glen International.

The deal ends speculation that Truex would leave the company he has been with since making the move from Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Nationwide Series team in 2004.

He has been linked most strongly with the No. 12 car at Penske Racing, No. 4 at Stewart-Haas Racing and No. 33 at Richard Childress Racing.

The move strengthens DEI's position in the sport following more than a year of gloom-and-doom predictions after Dale Jr. announced he was leaving for Hendrick Motorsports.

The organization is also negotiating a long-term deal to keep Paul Menard, who has improved from 34th in the points standings last season to 28th.

Truex made the championship chase a year ago in only his second full Cup season. The two-time Nationwide champion collected his first Cup win at Dover and finished 11th in the final standings.

He was challenging for one of the 12 playoff spots this season until he received a 150-point penalty when NASCAR officials discovered the roof on his No. 1 Chevrolet was too low during the initial inspection at Daytona.

He is currently 17th in points, 248 out of 12th.

Truex's commitment to the organization came in question when he didn't acknowledge that the option DEI picked up on his contract for next season was valid. Many knowledgeable of the deal insisted he could get out of it.

That increased speculation that Truex would either join Tony Stewart as the second driver at newly formed Stewart-Haas Racing or replace Ryan Newman at Penske Racing.

DEI executives Max Siegel and John Story have spent as much time fighting perception as they have getting Truex re-signed. It didn't help that Mark Martin announced earlier this month that he was leaving his part-time role in the No. 8 for a full-time ride in the No. 5 at Hendrick Motorsports.

"Since Junior left here there has been the perception that we've been struggling as a company," Story recently said. "To a certain extent that's to be expected.

"Fighting perception is very difficult and probably the most frustrating part of the business," Story said.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.