As if the historic 50th running of the Daytona 500 wasn't enough reason for
race fans to buy a ticket for DirecTV Speedweeks 2008 at Daytona International
Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. threw in a new wrinkle on Thursday morning.
Earnhardt Jr., the 2004 Daytona 500 champion, announced at JR Motorsports in Mooresville, N.C., that he is leaving Dale Earnhardt Inc. at the end of the 2007 season and will explore other driving opportunities for the 2008 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season.
On Sunday, Feb. 17, Daytona International Speedway will host the historic 50th running of the Daytona 500 and at the same time Earnhardt Jr. will begin a new era in his NEXTEL Cup Series career with a new team.
"The 50th running of the Daytona 500 will be the most anticipated event in racing history," Speedway President Robin Braig said. "In addition to kicking off the new NEXTEL Cup Series season, race fans will be anxious to see the new team that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be driving for as well as the color scheme and number of his car."
In addition to the 50th running of the Daytona 500, race fans will also get a chance to witness Earnhardt Jr. in other DirecTV Speedweeks events including:
· The Gatorade Duel At Daytona 150-mile qualifying races on Thursday, Feb. 14
· Budweiser Pole Qualifying for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 10
· The 30th annual Budweiser Shootout on Saturday Feb. 9, a non-points All-Star race that features the previous season's Bud Pole winners as well as past Budweiser Shootout champions.
Since joining DEI in 1998, Earnhardt Jr. has captured 17 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup
Series victories, 22 NASCAR Busch Series wins and two NASCAR Busch Series
championships. At "The World Center of Racing," Earnhardt Jr. has 10 victories
including the 2004 Daytona 500 and the 2001 Pepsi 400.
Tickets for the 50th running of the Daytona 500 and other DirecTV Speedweeks events went on sale on Wednesday, May 9 - the earliest on sale date for the Daytona 500 in history - and are still available by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or logging onto www.racetickets.com