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Earnhardt Jr.signs five-year extension with Hendrick Motorsports

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has signed a five-year contract that will keep him behind the wheel of a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet through 2017, the organization announced Thursday.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has signed a five-year contract that will keep him behind the wheel of a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet through 2017, the organization announced Thursday.

"We're excited to have everything formalized and announced," team owner Rick Hendrick said in a statement announcing the agreement. "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.

"My feelings haven't changed since the day he first signed with us. I'm committed as ever to putting him in the best possible situation to be successful and compete for wins and championships."

Earnhardt, 36, avoided the complications of racing in a contract year. His original deal with Hendrick, signed in 2007, ran from 2008 through 2012.

"It's great to have it all wrapped up so quickly and far in advance," said Earnhardt, currently ninth in the Sprint Cup standings and fighting for a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. "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.'

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"I'm really happy at Hendrick Motorsports and enjoy working with everyone here. The team's been very competitive this season, and we're all excited about the direction of things. I want to make sure we're giving our fans something to cheer about for a long time."

Earnhardt has 18 career points victories to his credit, only one (June 2008 at Michigan) since joining HMS. He also won the non-points Budweiser Shootout in February 2008 in his first outing in a Hendrick car.

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