While Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s first official race with his new Hendrick Motorsports team will be in February’s Daytona 500, team owner Rick Hendrick said he would like to get his new driver in one of his cars during an open test at Atlanta Motor Speedway in October.
J.J. Yeley, who is leaving his ride with Joe Gibbs Racing to make way for Kyle Busch, the driver Earnhardt’s replacing at Hendrick, would like to be behind the wheel of his new ride during the test. But for that to happen, Hendrick would have to allow Busch to test for Gibbs, and Dale Earnhardt Inc., Earnhardt’s current team, would have to do the same.
Hendrick said it was a pretty good likelihood Earnhardt could participate in the test with his new team.
“I would think it makes sense to everybody, because you’re testing the Car of Tomorrow at Atlanta and no information you get there is going to hurt you with the team you’re competing against in the Chase,” said Hendrick. “I think it makes sense for everybody to let a guy that’s moving work with the new team.”
Hendrick said he would “absolutely” release Busch to test for Gibbs.
It has been reported that Regan Smith, who’s currently running a partial schedule for DEI, will be testing with Earnhardt’s current team at the session, but Earnhardt’s business manager and sister Kelley Earnhardt Elledge said there have been no discussions with DEI about releasing Earnhardt to drive in the test, but those talks could be coming.
“We don’t have plans at this point, but it would certainly make sense if you could shift everybody around and get them to the right teams,” said Elledge. “It could all unfold. We would definitely be interested in talking to DEI, depending on what they want to do in the 8 car.”