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Hendrick, JR Motorsports to combine Busch teams

Hendrick, JR Motorsports to combine Busch teams

Hendrick, JR Motorsports to combine Busch teams

Hendrick Motorsports and JR Motorsports will combine the two companies' Busch Series operations in 2008, both teams announced Monday.

JR Motorsports will field two full-time Busch teams next year, the No. 5 with Rick Hendrick as the listed owner and the No. 88 with Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the owner. Hendrick will supply engines, chassis and engineering support to JR Motorsports.

Approximately 30 employees will move from Hendrick's Busch shop in Concord, N.C., to JR Motorsports' new facility in Mooresville, N.C. Chad Walter will remain as crew chief of the No. 5.

"It's a great opportunity to have the wholesale support that Hendrick Motorsports is going to provide," Earnhardt Jr. said in a news release.

"Being a relatively new team owner in this sport, this is a huge step for me and everyone at JR Motorsports.

"It was never part of the equation when I was deciding where to drive next year, but it seemed to be a natural progression once Rick and I began talking about the transition into 2008."

Driver and sponsor lineups will be announced at a later date, the teams announced. Brad Keselowski replaced Shane Huffman as driver of Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88, though Andy Pilgrim will compete in the upcoming road races at Montreal and Watkins Glen. Earnhardt Jr. said last weekend he wanted to keep Keselowski for the rest of the season.

Hendrick Motorsports has fielded three teams this season: the No. 5 for 14 races with Kyle Busch, Mark Martin and Adrian Fernandez as drivers; the No. 24 for 15 races with Casey Mears and Landon Cassill as drivers and the No. 48 for one race with Jimmie Johnson has driver.

"Ultimately, Dale Jr. and I both want to win races and give our people the best possible chance at achieving success," Hendrick said. "Instead of operating independently of each other, we have an opportunity to work together to field an even stronger Busch Series effort.

"I have a great personal desire to see the No. 5 car succeed. My son [the late Ricky Hendrick] turned it into a championship team [as a car owner], and

we are committed to continuing that legacy with both the No. 5 and the No. 88."

The teams will also collaborate in the areas of partnership development, sponsorship services, marketing and media relations.

"Rick's Busch program is consistently one of the best in the series," Earnhardt Jr. said. "To be able to partner with him and utilize our combined strengths in competition, sponsorship and marketing will be a tremendous benefit to both our organizations."

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