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CadillacPower24_2006

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: May 09, 2007, 11:16:52 PM

http://www.tbo.com/sports/autoracing/MGBQET4LI1F.html

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s tenure with the racing team his father started may be coming to an end.

Earnhardt, in the final year of his contract with Dale Earnhardt Inc., has called a news conference for this morning at the headquarters of his Busch Series team, JR Motorsports. The purpose of the news conference was not disclosed.

ESPN.com and Yahoo! Sports reported Wednesday that Earnhardt will announce that he and DEI teammate Martin Truex Jr. will drive for new teams fielded by JR Motorsports with engines from Hendrick Motorsports next year.

However, the Charlotte Observer reported that while Earnhardt will announce that he's leaving DEI, he will not say where he will drive in 2008. Such a scenario would make Earnhardt a free agent and open his services to the highest bidder.

Calls to JR Motorsports, DEI and Earnhardt's representative, Mike Davis, were not immediately returned.

Earnhardt's future has been the subject of considerable speculation since January, when he said at Daytona testing he wants an ownership stake in DEI - which he later clarified to mean majority ownership. DEI is owned by Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s widow, Teresa Earnhardt.

At the time, Earnhardt opened up about his relationship with his stepmother, saying it "has always been very black and white - very strict and in your face."

Later in January, four-time Nextel Cup champion Jeff Gordon spoke out for Earnhardt, saying that if Teresa Earnhardt didn't understand that Dale Jr. has the leverage to demand majority ownership, "shame on her."

Recently, the Association Press, citing unnamed sources, reported that Teresa Earnhardt has offered to sell Dale Jr. majority ownership in the company for $55 million to $75 million.

Earnhardt, who is represented by his sister, Kelly Earnhardt Elledge, was asked about the negotiations on an April 24 conference call.

"Whenever we get the information - when I have what I have, know what I know - believe me, I won't hold it out for long," he said.

Complicating the situation further is that DEI has been in discussions with Robert Yates Racing about a merger or acquisition. RYR fields Fords, meaning the combined organization could be a Ford team.

Asked last weekend whether it's possible he could drive a Ford next year, Earnhardt told SceneDaily.com, "We'll be driving Chevys, I'll promise you that."

Besides wanting majority ownership in DEI, Earnhardt has said he wants to see evidence the team is committing the resources to compete with Hendrick Motorsports and other top teams.

This week he said that DEI could not compete with Hendrick, which has won seven of the last eight races and all four of the races run with NASCAR's "car of tomorrow."

"They've got a lot of resources," Dale Jr. said. "They've got a great company - two, three really good cars every week, great crew chiefs. Their cars, they handle pretty good. They're getting through the center of the corner better with the COT, and that's just because they test the hell out of it."

Earnhardt almost certainly would take sponsor Budweiser with him, whether he starts his own team or drives for somebody else, but he would likely give up his No. 8.

Although he hasn't won a Nextel Cup championship, Earnhardt is considered a top-10 caliber driver and has a huge fan following, which would make him highly valuable to any team or sponsor.

He would not be able to drive for Hendrick Motorsports unless that organization dropped one of its four drivers, but he could drive for the organization for his dad's former team, Richard Childress Racing.



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Its gonna be tough for me to follow JR as a fan if he goes to Hendrick racing, yes they are succeful, but i don't like any of the hendrick drivers

one_of_a_kind24

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#1 : May 09, 2007, 11:23:23 PM

If Junior and Truex leave DEI then DEI will go south in a hurry.  Teresa should just give Junior the company because Junior is DEI.  Without him they aren't good.


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#2 : May 09, 2007, 11:30:53 PM

OMG this is all they talk about up here in NC. [banghead]

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