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John Wayne's Holster: Junior Bolts DEI
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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Junior Bolts DEI

Could Dale Jr. Take the Wheel of Daddy’s No.3 Car?
Photo Credit: All Posters

Across the pond, Tony Blair announced today that he is stepping down as Labour Party leader and British prime minister effective June 27th. In the US, President Bush announced that he will seek an agreement with Congress on benchmarks to measure progress in Iraq.

But the BIG story of the day is that Dale Earnhardt Jr. has announced that he will leave DEI racing at the conclusion of the current NASCAR season.

As those of us that follow NASCAR are aware, DEI was founded by Dale’s father, the late and legendary Dale Earnhardt. Dale Sr. always foresaw his son taking the reign of his company at some point. But following his death in the last lap of the Daytona 500 in 2001, contol of the company went to Teresa Earnhardt, step-mother to Dale Jr.

Dale Jr. - NASCAR’s most popular driver, and arguably one of its most talented - is currently in the last year of his contract with DEI. He has been working on a contract extension. As part of the negotiations, he was seeking contolling ownership (51%) in DEI – something his step-mother was unwilling to concede.

Although Junior concedes that both he and his step-mother have the same goal – winning the NEXTEL Cup points championship – they do not have the same vision as to how to get there. As a result, Dale Jr. is jumping ship.

Now the speculation starts. Where will he go next?

Although Dale Jr. currently owns and operates Junior Motorsports, from which he runs a Busch series team, that seems unlikley. JRM may not have the resouces to compete on the NEXTEL cup level, and Dale Jr. has already expressed his concerns about growing the company too quickly.

Most racing insiders believe he will join ranks with an established team running a NEXTEL series program. Due to Junior’s preferences for taking the wheel of a Chevy, the most attractive candidates are porbably Hendrick Motorsports or Richard Childress Racing. Perhaps even Joe Gibbs Racing.

Hendrick is arguably the best Chevy team in NASCAR,and would be a good fit for Junior. But they are already fielding four teams and therefore may not have any room for him in the garage. Childress on the other hand does have some room. In addition, they own the rights to the No.3 car driven by Dale’s legendary father. If Dale Jr. were to join forces will RCR and take the wheel of his late father’s car, he would undoubltedly become the reigning king of NASCAR – at least as far as marketing goes. But that would only bring comparisons and might be too much pressure.

Another place for Little E to land is with Joe Gibbs Racing. He is a good friend with Joe Gibbs. If he does join JGR, he could team up with Tony Stewart. They have both helped each other out in the past during restrictor plate races. There is one potential problem that could prevent a deal with JGR from going down. Junior wants to keep Budweiser as his sponsor. Gibbs is an evangelical Christian and has a policy of not accepting sponsorship from companies that sell alcohol. So if Junior wants to team up with JGR, somethoing has to give.

If he goes to an established team, he certainly won't feel light in the wallet. He is going to cash in big time. He may even become the highest earning free agent in sports history. He would probably fare better on the track as well since the distractions of the DEI negotiations would be behind him. Although he made the cut for the chase last year, he never really was in contention for the title. The year before that, there was some domestic trouble in the garage and he failed to qualify. The clost he has come was a few years back when he finished 3rd.

Hopefully he can focus on racing now and bring home the NEXTEL cup title.


At 5:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Huh???? I must admit I am ignorant of everything NASCAR.

On a side not, what do you think of Ron Paul? Although he has pretty much no chance of winning, he seems like the best conservative candidate. I still like McCain but I am extremely pessimistic about any Republican winning. Perhaps it is for the better, maybe we should have a Democrat president with a Republican congress. It seems to work better that way.


At 1:12 PM, Anonymous Joe Verica said...

Hey Roy

Good to hear from you!

Ron Paul? I like him. Alot! Of all the declared GOP candidates, I like him, Huckabee, and Hunter. I also like Newt, but he has not declared yet. I am in the process of putting together something about him for the blog.

As for his chances of winning, you are probably right - he has a slim chance at best. But that could change. According to the FOX News poll, 25% of the viewers thought Paul won the debate, compared to 19% for Rudy and 4% for McCain. Paul's problem is money - or lack thereof. If he had a bit more, he might be a contender. The other problem is that the right-wing kool-aide drinkers like Hannity deride him on a daily basis. That will hurt him with conservatives.

At 8:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A blog dedicated to little E, and you're listening to Johnnie Cash; when did you become a redneck?



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