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EGR president focused on 2009

CONCORD, N.C. -- Earnhardt Ganassi Racing laid off another 30 employees on Tuesday, bringing the total to more than 150 since the 2008 season ended.

But EGR president Steve Lauletta insisted the organization is not in turmoil and that it plans to fund three full Sprint Cup cars for the season with four cars coming to next month's opener at Daytona International Speedway.

"It's certainly not crazy,'' he said. "It's been a lot of work. We've been handling everything we need to handle to get to this point. All we can focus on now is the competition side.''

It was the first time since the merger between Chip Ganassi Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. was announced two months ago that any official from the organization spoke publicly.

But before Lauletta spoke to a small group of reporters at the NASCAR media tour he addressed the entire organization to assure the remaining 200 employees they are headed in the right direction.

"There's a lot of rumors out there, a lot of misinformation, a lot of things we needed to confirm so people could put their heads down and continue to work hard,'' Lauletta said.

Lauletta made official that longtime sponsor Target is moving from the No. 41 car without a driver to the No. 42 of Juan Pablo Montoya. The 42 had sponsorship for only half the season with Wrigley's, which will remain an associate sponsor.

Lauletta said the No. 1 car driven by Martin Truex Jr. is sponsored for most of the season by Bass Pro Shops and that the company will extend that through the season if other sponsorship being sought falls through.

He said multiple sponsors for the No. 8 of Aric Almirola would be announced soon along with sponsorship for the fourth car for at least the Daytona 500.

There are several candidates to drive the fourth car, which will continue past the first race if sponsorship can be found. Bobby Labonte had been targeted as the final driver, but signed to drive the No. 96 for Yates Racing after EGR could not guarantee sponsorship for a full season.

All four car numbers finished in the top 35 in points last season and will be guaranteed a spot in the 500.

"We're still facing a very difficult sponsorship environment, a very difficult economical environment,'' Lauletta said. "We were put in a position of doing a year's worth of work in two months. The biggest thing we've got to do is focus on the performance on the track.''

While the organization still utilizes the old DEI shop in Mooresville, N.C., for its seven-post machine and other technology, most of the work is being done out of Ganassi's shop in Concord, N.C.

Ganassi has shut down its engine operation and the team is using engines provided by Earnhardt Childress Racing.

Lauletta said Ganassi and Terressa Earnhardt, the owner of DEI, remain in charge. Steve Hmiel is running the competition side as he was at Ganassi Racing.

Lauletta and Chad Warpula, who was the general counsel for DEI, are handling the business side.

"We're not big on titles,'' Lauletta said with a laugh. "We're just big on getting work done.''

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