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Earnhardt extends contract, Bowyer undecided

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has agreed to a five-year extension that will see him stay at Hendrick Motorsports through to the end of the 2017 season, but uncertainty surrounds Clint Bowyer.
NASCAR's most popular driver, fan favourite Dale Earnhardt Jr., has wrapped up a contract extension to remain with his current team Hendrick Motorsports through to the end of the 2017 season.

Earnhardt's current contract isn't due to expire until the end of next season, but the driver was keen to get the deal wrapped up well in advance and avoid the sort of fevered speculation about contracts that has dogged Carl Edwards at Roush Fenway Racing this season, and arguably adversely affected Edwards' Sprint Cup championship campaign with all the distraction.

"It's great to have it all wrapped up so quickly and far in advance," said Earnhardt Jr. said in a press release. "Rick and I were on the same page from the first time we talked about it, so there wasn't any sense in waiting. There were never any questions or hesitations from either of us. It was just, 'Yeah, let's do it.'"

Earnhardt left the details to his manager and sister, Kelley Earnhardt, to negotiate with Hendrick Motorsports President Marshall Carlson, again in contrast to Carl Edwards who handles his own business affairs himself.

"We're excited to have everything formalized and announced," Hendrick said. "Junior and I had a handshake agreement months ago, and we let other people work out the finer points from there. It was as simple and smooth as it gets."

Currently 36, Earnhardt Jr. will be 43 by the time the current contract comes to an end in 2017. He originally moved to Hendrick Motorports at the end of 2007 in a shock move away from the team bearing his famous father's name: Dale Earnhardt Inc. subsequently merged to form Earnhardt Ganassi Racing which currently fields Juan Montoya and Jamie McMurray.

His team owner Rick Hendrick is also a co-owner of Earnhardt's JR Motorsports Nationwide Series team, which next year will field Danica Patrick in the #7 car for a full Nationwide season.

The straightforward and harmonious contract extension for Earnhardt is in stark contrast to the increasingly strained situation at Richard Childress Racing, where Clint Bowyer is still locked in discussions with the team regarding his own contract extension.

Bowyer had at one point looked to be a possible alternative signing for Roush Fenway if Carl Edwards had decided to jump ship to Joe Gibbs Racing, but once Edwards opted to stay put it then seemed a foregone conclusion that he would quickly re-up with Childress.




Related Pictures

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Dale Earnhardt Jr [Pic credit: Getty for NASCAR]
Hendrick Motorsports` Dale Earnhardt Jr. with crew chief Steve Letarte. (Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Clint Bowyer drives the #15 5-Hour Energy Toyota during a testing session at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 26, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS races to a third place finish with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS who finishes in fifth place in the Daytona 500 Sunday, February 22, 2015 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by HHP/Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Percision Chevrolet, lead the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 22, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, and Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota, race three-wide during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 22, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Chris Buescher, driver of the #60 Kellogg/Cheez-It Ford, races Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 ENEOS Chevrolet, and Ryan Reed, driver of the #16 Lilly/American Diabetes Association Ford, during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Alert Today Florida 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 21, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Erik Jones, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #6 Ford EcoBoost Ford, and Landon Cassill, driver of the #01 Flex Seal Chevrolet, race three-wide during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Alert Today Florida 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 21, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Hendrick Motorsports team mates (left) Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet and (right) Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet celebrate in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Budweiser Duel 1 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Alex Bowman, driver of the #7 Toy State/Nikko Chevrolet, and Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the #9 Twisted Tea Ford, are involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Budweiser Duel 2 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy Chevrolet, is involved in an on-track incident with Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, and Brian Scott, driver of the #62 Shore Lodge Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Budweiser Duel 2 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Budweiser Duel 1 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Budweiser Duel 1 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars during practice for the 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
The damaged #10 GoDaddy Chevrolet of Danica Patrick is towed through the garage area after an incident during practice for the 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, captures the Daytona 500 pole for the second time in his career Sunday, February 15, 2015 after posting the fastest qualifying time for next Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Daytona Beach, Florida. Gordon, who has said this is his last full season of racing, has won the Daytona 500 three times. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies second and will also start from the front row. (Photo by HHP/David Tulis for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, captures the Daytona 500 pole for the second time in his career Sunday, February 15, 2015 after posting the fastest qualifying time for next Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Daytona Beach, Florida. Gordon, shown with his team and crew chief, Alan Gustafson, said this is his last full season of racing. Gordan has won the Daytona 500 three times. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies second and will also start from the front row. (Photo by HHP/Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, is congratulated by Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, after capturing the Daytona 500 pole for the second time in his career Sunday, February 15, 2015. Gordon posted the fastest qualifying time for next Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Daytona Beach, Florida, which he has won three times. He has said this is his last full season of racing. Johnson qualifies second and will also start from the front row.(Photo by HHP/Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)

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