CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Twenty-seven days after Dale Earnhardt Jr. informed Rick Hendrick he wouldn’t race in the NASCAR Cup Series after 2017, Hendrick said “no” plans have been set for the future of the No. 88 Chevrolet.
“We’ve got a lot of people to consider being partners, like our sponsors,” Hendrick said Tuesday at Earnhardt’s retirement press conference. “We’ve just been talking to them. Priority one is to get everything prepared and get the day over with and we’ll take time to decide what we do then.”
The three-year deal with Nationwide, which will sponsor the car for 20 races this season, expires after this season. Jim McCoy, director of sports marketing for Nationwide, said no decision has been made on what to do.
“It’s still pretty early in all those conversations,” McCoy told NBC Sports. “Today was about Dale. We’re still kind of absorbing everything that took place with that. He’s been a great partner. We’re looking forward to continue that partnership. We’re evaluating our 2018 program, much like we would in any renewal year. Hendrick is a great partner. We’ll continue to look at all of our options for ’18.”
The 14-time most popular driver joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2008 and has driven the No. 88 in 312 starts up to Monday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Earnhardt is scheduled to make his 631st and final Cup start Nov. 19 in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Three months later, the next driver for the No. 88 will make their debut at Daytona International Speedway.
Not long after the news was announced, NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan broke down a list of potential successors for Earnhardt, which includes Alex Bowman, Xfinity Series driver William Byron and Carl Edwards.