- David Newton, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The owner of Hendrick Motorsports is "very close" to reaching a deal for the 13 unsponsored Sprint Cup races on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 car, the Charlotte Observer reported.
"I've not been worried about it because we could sell it if we wanted to piecemeal it. We've been looking for the future," Rick Hendrick told the newspaper on Monday. "We don't want to get into [sponsor relationships] where you see somebody one time and you don't seem them anymore after that.
"I am very confident that in the next couple of weeks we should have not only this year [covered] but we should have a lot done for next year, too."
Hendrick said in January he wasn't rushing to fill the unsponsored races for NASCAR's most popular driver because he was trying to secure relationships that would go beyond this year.
The first unsponsored race on the 88 is the July stop at Daytona International Speedway. Earnhardt's No. 88 car is sponsored by National Guard for 20 races and Pepsi products -- Diet Mountain Dew and AMP Energy drinks -- for five in 2013. Earnhardt will have a special paint scheme promoting the upcoming Superman "Man of Steel" movie on his hood this weekend at Michigan International Speedway.
National Guard also will be on the car as part of its "Soldiers of Steel" game and recruiting campaign.
Earnhardt had a special Batman paint scheme last season at Michigan when he ended a 143-race losing streak. He hasn't won since, but he finished third on Sunday at Pocono and is fourth in the point standings.