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Earnhardt merges with Hendrick, Harvick merges with Childress

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CHARLOTTE (AP) -- Dale Earnhardt Junior and Kevin Harvick have partnered with their respective Cup team owners. Car owner Rick Hendrick will merge his existing Busch team into JR Motorsports, the Busch team owned by Earnhardt. Hendrick says approximately 30 employees, including crew chief Chad Walter, will move from his shop to JRM. Harvick strengthened the existing alliance between Richard Childress and Kevin Harvick Incorporated, which races in the Busch and Truck Series. The deals were announced separately today, and come on the heels of mergers last week between Dale Earnhardt Incorporated and Ginn Racing, and a partnership between Robert Yates Racing and the open-wheel Newman/Haas/Lanigan organization. Many team owners currently believe combining resources with bigger operations is the only way to remain competitive in NASCAR. (Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)