Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick agree to extension

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will remain with Hendrick year contract extension on Thursday.

Earnhardt has 18 career Sprint Cup wins, including the 2004 Daytona 500. He hasn't won a race on NASCAR's top circuit since his first year with Hendrick during the 2008 season, but is ninth this year in the point standings with nine top-10 finishes in 24 starts.

"We're excited to have everything formalized and announced," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "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 signed with Hendrick in June 2007 and began driving for the owner the following season. That contract was set to expire after the 2012 campaign.

"It's great to have it all wrapped up so quickly and far in advance," said Earnhardt in a statement. "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.'

"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."

In addition to his Sprint Cup success, Earnhardt has two Nationwide Series championships.