Sources: No. 8 car is being parked

Updated: April 8, 2009, 7:13 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The No. 8 Sprint Cup car, the centerpiece of Dale Earnhardt Inc. before its merger with Chip Ganassi Racing, is the latest casualty of the economy.

Sources close to the situation said officials at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates are parking the car driven by Aric Almirola until sponsorship is found. An announcement could come in the next 24 hours.

Almirola
Almirola

EGR officials were not available for comment, but sources said a handful of employees have been let go, and that number could grow to 40 to 50 before all is said and done.

Almirola ranks 37th in owner points heading into next week's race at Phoenix International Raceway. He is 59 points behind rookie Joey Logano, who occupies the final spot for the top 35 guaranteed a position in each race.

Almirola has an average finish of 32.9 this season, finishing no better than 21st in seven races and no better than 33rd the past three.

Parking that car leaves EGR with two full-time drivers in Martin Truex Jr. and Juan Pablo Montoya. Sources deny a report that Truex has a clause in his contract that would free him and primary sponsor Bass Pro Shops if he doesn't have at least two fulltime teammates.

The No. 8 was made famous at DEI with NASCAR's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., behind the wheel. Earnhardt won 17 of his 18 races in that car before leaving for Hendrick Motorsports last season.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

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ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter