Earnhardt makes it official

The Baltimore Sun

On the day Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced that he was joining Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth gave his support of the move.

"If you look at Jeff [Gordon] and Jimmie [Johnson], everybody runs over there. As of today they [Hendrick Motorsports] have the most successful organization there is," said Kenseth, who was at Harley-Davidson of Baltimore yesterday for a promotion. "I think any driver would want to be a part of that if they had the opportunity."

Kenseth, second in points in the Nextel Cup standings, said he wasn't surprised that Earnhardt made the jump to Hendrick, which has won 10 of 14 points races this season.

"I kind of thought that he was looking to do something different for a while, try to go somewhere else and get better stuff. I wasn't really surprised by it," Kenseth said.

Earnhardt said he wanted to win championships, and he hasn't been in the running for a Cup title in seven full seasons at Dale Earnhardt Inc., the only organization he's driven for.

"I think that I'll have a good opportunity to succeed and win a lot of races," Earnhardt said at a news conference in Mooresville, N.C. "Personally, I think I will cherish a championship on my mantel when it's all said and done."

Earnhardt will replace Kyle Busch on Rick Hendrick's team, which has already agreed to release Busch from his contract. Hendrick acquiring Earnhardt is the hottest topic in the sport, and Kenseth said it makes sense for a driver of his caliber to make that move.

Kenseth, in town working with his longtime sponsor, DeWalt, a manufacturer of power tools, is in the midst of one of his best seasons.

"It's going pretty well. I'm really happy where we are in the points. I still wish we were performing a little but better, but things have been going good lately," he said.

He was asked whether Earnhardt teaming with the likes of Gordon, the points leader, is healthy for NASCAR from a competitive outlook. He said he didn't see how it could be bad for the sport, but added it could take some time to grow on fans of both drivers. The two sides have always been vocal and competitive for years, and Gordon is generally disliked by Earnhardt fans.

"With them on different teams it was easier for the fans to pick one or the other because they're the two most popular drivers in NASCAR," Kenseth said. "When they're on the same team that might make it a little more difficult. Now it might be a little tougher for some fans to accept."


The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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