NASCAR’s most popular driver will stay with the most dominant race team at least through 2017. Hendrick Motorsports on Thursday announced a five-year contract extension with Dale Earnhardt Jr., who heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend trying to clinch his first berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship in three years. “It’s great to have it all wrapped up so quickly and far in advance,” said Earnhardt, who had another year left on the original contract that began in 2008. Earnhardt left Dale Earnhardt Inc., his late father’s race team, at the end of the 2007 season to join car owner Rick Hendrick. Earnhardt’s courtship was the most frenzied free agency in NASCAR history, and he chose the most dominant team. – AP
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