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Dale Earnhardt, Jr. To Start Own Team, Join Indycar Series

MARTINSVILLE, VA - MARCH 26:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 AMP Energy Sugar Free Lightning Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 26, 2010 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jason Smith/Getty Images
Ryan WordenFeatured ColumnistApril 1, 2010

Today, live from his Mooresville, NC shop, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. announced that he will expand his JR Motorsports operation into open-wheel racing and join the IZOD Indycar Series.

Junior made the surprise announcement to a gathered group of media who were expecting an announcement about Danica Patrick joining NASCAR full time, and the gathered crowd was met with shock. 

Dale Jr. stated he intends to join the series for the start of the 2011 season, running a full schedule in the new No. 88 car. Sponsorship details are expected to be announced shortly.

The main question that gathered masses asked of him was why on earth he would switch from the marketing giant of NASCAR to join a series that runs the majority of its races on cable.

Junior stated he was ready for a new challenge and the goosing he got from Eddie Gossage about running at Texas in 2008 continued. Junior noted, "Man, everyday when I get home, he's on the answering machine. Calling me chicken, insulting my manhood, and telling me how Danica Patrick is a better man than me. I could only take so much of that before I decided it was time to prove him wrong."

Gossage, a known circus promoter, recently paid a radio DJ $100,000 to legally change his name to TexasMotorSpeedway.com.  He was excited about the announcement, saying, "WOOOO! We finally got the big boy coming to run! Jager bombs for all!"

The news was met with less enthusiastic responses from other members of the Indycar nation. Just after the announcement, Paul Tracy tweeted, "I hope you all are happy with your Indycar series...nothing but gimmicks and ride buying."

Junior noted that one of the other main reasons for switching to the IZOD IndyCar Series was the increasingly bizarre rules NASCAR continues to implement. "Between the Chase, the lucky dog free pass, endless restarts at the end of races, automatic owners points qualifying, and letting Jimmy Johnson have 200 more horsepower than the rest of us, I got a little fed up. I want to get back to real racing, where the winner is determined by who ran the best race."

Junior was excited about the opportunity to run the Indianapolis 500, saying being able to join during the Centennial celebration was a great motivator for him. "Since 2011 will be the 100th anniversary of the first Indianapolis 500, I thought I would give IndyCar fans a treat and make their days extra special by including myself."

The news was not all positive on the day, however, as upon hearing the news, Darrell Waltrip started stammering incoherently. Doctors rushed to his side to provide assistance, but they are concerned the damage may be permanent. The doctors noted all they could understand from his ramblings were, "I hate this day in April!"

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