As the Jetson’s pet dog Astro said, rutro!

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is replacing Busch Series driver Shane Huffman in the No. 88 Navy Chevrolet this Friday at Daytona for the Winn-Dixie 250. This is very surprising news to me because I hadn’t heard of any troubles at JR Motorsports. Huffman is currently ranked 13th in the Busch Series standings, and in the past three races he’s managed two top ten finishes.

So what happened? There’s no word yet on who the new driver for the No. 88 will be, and Junior’s press release quotes don’t offer much in the way of a specific reason.

“Upon a midseason evaluation of the performance of this race team, we decided we needed to make a change, and right now we have a window to do that,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “Because of the short notice, I am going to drive the Navy car Friday night at Daytona. It’s a big race for us. We are carrying a special Navy SEALs paint scheme on the car, so we want to make sure we give it a good run for the Navy and all our sponsors and employees.”

Earnhardt Jr. said he does not intend to drive the car beyond this weekend, although a new full-time driver has yet to be determined. This weekend’s interim role will give Earnhardt Jr. the opportunity to compete in equipment solely his own for the first time. He is the defending race winner of the Winn-Dixie 250, as he led 88 of 103 laps en route to a dominating victory in a Dale Earnhardt Inc.-prepared Chevrolet last year.

“I have always wanted to drive my own car, but I’m doing this to give us time to evaluate our options and see who we want to put in the car for the rest of the season,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I will get with my people at JR Motorsports, and hopefully we will have a new driver named in the very near future.”

Wouldn’t it be great if they just said “look, this guy is a tool and we don’t want to deal with him anymore.” Obviously I have no idea what the reasons are but I wonder if Shane’s status as a “baby daddy” has something to do with all of this.

(credit: JR Motorsports)