Earnhardt to replace Huffman in No. 88 at Daytona

Updated: July 3, 2007, 4:18 PM ET
Associated Press

MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive his own race car Friday night when he replaces Shane Huffman in the Busch Series race at Daytona International Speedway.

Earnhardt, a two-time Busch champion, will drive the No. 88 Chevrolet he fields for JR Motorsports. He said Tuesday he is searching for a permanent replacement for Huffman.

"Upon a midseason evaluation of the performance of this race team, we decided we needed to make a change, and right now we have a window to do that," Earnhardt said Tuesday. "Because of the short notice, I am going to drive the Navy car Friday night at Daytona."

The race is a big event for the Navy, which sponsors the No. 88 and will use a special Navy SEALs paint scheme this weekend in honor of the Fourth of July. Because of the added importance, Earnhardt wanted to pilot the car himself.

He is the defending race winner and led 88 of 103 laps last year driving a car owned by DEI. This weekend will mark the first time NASCAR's most popular driver pilots a car fielded by his own race team.

"I have always wanted to drive my own car, but I'm doing this to give us time to evaluate our options and see who we want to put in the car for the rest of the season," Earnhardt said. "I will get with my people at JR Motorsports, and hopefully we will have a new driver named in the very near future."

Earnhardt, who won back-to-back Busch titles in 1998 and 1999, has 22 career wins in the series and is tied for seventh on the career wins list. Five of those wins are at Daytona.

He's raced in three Busch events this season, all for DEI.

Huffman, who took over the car last August, had six top-10s in 28 races.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press