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Earnhardt Jr. makes surprise visit to Daytona test

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 7, 2007) - He won’t hit Daytona’s high banks until next week,, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. roamed the garage Monday in support of Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Casey Mears.

The 2008 season will be Earnhardt’s first at Hendrick Motorsports, so the driver of the No. 88 Mountain Dew AMP/National Guard Chevrolet took the opportunity to observe the test session and visit with his new teammates.

“Most drivers, if they’re not here testing, they don’t want to be here,” Gordon said. “So I was surprised. I think it says a lot. And it’s smart, you know, on his part. So I’m really proud of him for doing that because he’s going to be here without his teammates next week.”

Johnson, the two-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, agreed.

“For him to come down, show the team how committed he is to being up front, and how committed he is to winning races and championships, says a lot,” Johnson said. “It says a lot to the team, his teammates, to the team members and I think to the racing public, that he’s down here, ready to go and ready to get after it.”