Jeff Gordon signed a contract Wednesday to stay with Hendrick Motorsports for the rest of his Winston Cup career.
The deal also gives him an equal share of the ownership of his car with team founder Rick Hendrick and a more active management role.
"I always had hoped Jeff would race for me forever," Hendrick said at a news conference at the team's complex in suburban Charlotte.
Hendrick said the contract, which takes effect Jan. 1, had been discussed for several months. The agreement came less than a week after Ray Evernham, Gordon's crew chief and mentor, left Hendrick Motorsports. He was released from a contract that extended through 2006.
Since joining Hendrick, the 28-year-old Gordon has won 48 races and three of the past four Winston Cup championships.
"This is an unbelievable day for me," he said. "I'm so excited about this, and I've been excited about this. I feel like I've been a partner since I started racing here at the end of 1992. I guess today it's just on paper."
"I know I have a great deal more to offer this team than just driving the car."
Under the agreement, Jeff Gordon Inc., a company owned by Gordon, will continue to manage the licensing activities of his No. 24 car and will negotiate future sponsor relationships for the team. Financial terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.
Gordon debuted in the Winston Cup series in the last event of the 1992 season and has started 217 races. His first victory came in the 1994 Coca-Cola 600.
Hendrick Motorsports also fields the No. 5 and No. 25 Winton Cup teams and a Craftsman Truck Series team.
"This in no way affects our commitment to any of our teams," Hendrick said of the agreement with Gordon. "In fact, I think it will pull our operations closer together."
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