Dale Earnhardt Jr. willing to talk new contract with Hendrick

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has had talks to have actual talks about remaining at Hendrick Motorsports beyond this Monster Energy Cup Series season.

Earnhardt, whose contract ends after 2017, had put contract negotiations on hold after suffering a concussion that kept him out of the car for the final 18 races of 2016.

In February, Earnhardt had said he wanted to take some time, possibly a couple of months, to see how he felt before resuming negotiations. The 2016 concussion was his fourth known concussion in his career.

Earnhardt joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2008. After four points races, he is 23rd in the standings but says he is happy with his health and wants to continue to race.

"It's only been a few races, but I feel really good and we have had some discussions about planning to get together," Earnhardt said. "It's not something that I put on the shelf, for sure. We're getting closer and closer.

Having felt fine over the first five weeks of racing, Earnhardt says he has talked with Rick Hendrick about sitting down and discussing his future. He is confident that the changes in the headrest to his car, which limits his head movement, will help if he has another hard crash.

"I've done some things that I really think have gave me a lot of confidence in the car and in my ability to continue to race," Earnhardt said. "I'm not in any hurry to sit down and have those discussions, but we have been chit-chatting a little bit about that we need to go ahead and start heading in that direction."

Earnhardt isn't the only Hendrick driver without a contract for 2018. Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson also hasn't signed an extension that he plans to finalize eventually.

"We are always talking and working on the details," said Johnson, who has spent his entire career at Hendrick. "We don't have anything ready yet, but I'm sure we will announce before long. As you can tell, I'm not overly concerned.

"I feel very confident we will get something put together with Lowe's as our primary sponsor. Hendrick is my home, so I'm not worried about where that stuff will actually be executed and what point in the season it will be executed, but I know it will happen soon."

Earnhardt said before the start of the Cup season that he would retire if he won the championship. Bob Pockrass/ESPN

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