Occasional Nextel Cup driver Kerry Earnhardt has singed a full-time deal to compete in the 2005 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series with Billy Ballew Motorsports.

The eldest son of the late Dale Earnhardt will replace Shane Hmiel behind the wheel of Ballew's #15 Chevrolet Silverado, which will also start to use Dale Earnhardt Inc. prepped engines in 2005.

"This one-two Earnhardt punch is just what this team needed," said Ballew. "We were able to get our first series win this past season at Las Vegas, and by adding Kerry and utilizing DEI power for our efforts next year, I feel we can contend week in and week out. We're extremely excited about this opportunity to align ourselves with one of the strongest names and one of the strongest organizations in Motorsports."

Earnhardt will be running for the first time in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition. The 34-year-old NASCAR Busch Series veteran lays claim to four ARCA Re/Max Series victories, as well a pair of top-five and five top-10 Busch Series performances.

"I am excited about joining Billy Ballew Motorsports with Dale Earnhardt Inc. support," Earnhardt said. "Billy Ballew Motorsports has really stepped up their program. They were real strong right out of the box this past year. They have great equipment and that showed over the course of the 2004 season. It is obvious that the Billy Ballew Motorsports team has tremendous potential and I think I have potential as a driver, so hopefully that will be a good combination for us next year."

Even though he has spent most of his time in the Busch Series, Earnhardt has kept his eye on the development of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. It is not a challenge he takes lightly.

I have been watching the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for the past several years and it has grown by leaps and bounds," Earnhardt says. "There are a lot of big name drivers and really good, well equipped teams. You have more and more quality drivers like Ron Hornaday Jr. returning to the series. You have guys coming out of the Nextel Cup series like Kasey Kahne and Jamie McMurray just to run truck series races.

"The reputation for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is really growing and drivers really want to compete in the series. It is in some ways as big if not bigger than the Busch Series. It is important to me to have the opportunity to get seat time with a good organization like Billy Ballew Motorsports."

Ballew is looking to secure primary sponsorship for the full 2005 Craftsman Truck Series season. It is a task that he hopes will be aided by his addition of Earnhardt to the mix.

"Kerry is a great guy to be around," Ballew said. "People immediately respond to him because he is such a likable guy. He does an excellent job representing his sponsors, he is great with the fans and he is a heck of a driver. Having Kerry join our program and having the Earnhardt name behind us is bound to help us in obtaining a quality marketing partner for 2005 and beyond."



Loading Comments...