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Veteran NASCAR Winston Cup Series team owner Junie Donlavey announced on Saturday night that Hut Stricklin would remain as the driver of his No. 90 Hills Brothers Ford for the 2001 season.

In addition to naming Stricklin as the driver, Donlavey also revealed that Bobby King would be the new crew chief of the No. 90.

Donlavey had told RacingOne in an exclusive interview last week that he wanted Stricklin as his driver, but that he was going to leave the decision up to the officials at Hills Brothers. As it turned out, Junie got his man.

The 2000 campaign left a lot to be desired for both the driver and owner, as Stricklin - who joined Donlavey’s team in August - would end up 50th in the final points standings after making only seven races.

“Hut did a pretty good job,” Donlavey said. “The only problem was we didn’t have a crew chief to work with him. At one point last season, Hut was both our driver and our crew chief. If that doesn't show dedication to the cause, then I don't know what does. It’s rare to find a driver these days that will put so much energy into the entire operation, and not just his driving.

“I can’t blame last year on his driving, we just didn’t have the depth. Now we’ve got a lot more people. Bobby King just came on with us from Wayne Grubb’s team in the Busch Series.”

Stricklin, with such difficulties last season, couldn’t have been happier to have secured a chance to remain at NASCAR’s top level.

“I’m excited about the efforts the team put together from the middle of this season on," Stricklin said. "Some of the things that we accomplished were very amazing under the circumstances that were presented to us. I had a good feeling at the end of last season that things would work out well for the team. Junie has hired several employees to help Bobby in the shop, so we’ll be ready to go in 2001."

In 283 Winston Cup starts, Stricklin has eight top-five finishes, 28 top-10 finishes, and almost $5 million in winnings.

King admits there’s some work to be done to get the No. 90 running strong each week.

“I’m excited about the opportunities here at Donlavey Racing, and I'm ready to begin the process of turning this team around," King said. "I was able to bring Darrell Wiggins, Johnny Cash and Charles Hammock from Grubb Motorsports to help get some of the things done that we have fallen behind on heading into next year. The guys are all working hard and are starting to get things going into the right direction."

So the pieces are now in place for Donlavey to head down to Daytona Beach for yet another Daytona 500.

“It makes me feel good,” Donlavey said. “I started going down to Daytona in 1950, so I look forward to it every year.”

Related Topics:

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2000

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