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May-11-2007 04:30

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Becomes NASCAR's Biggest Free Agent

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has spent all nine seasons of his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup career driving for DEI.

Dale Earnhardt Jr
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Photo courtesy: U.S. Army

MOORESVILLE, N.C. - Months of speculation about Dale Earnhardt Jr. ended Thursday morning, when the veteran driver announced that he is leaving Dale Earnhardt Incorporated.

His departure happens at the end of the 2007 season.

Earnhardt Jr. and Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, his business manager and sister, had been attempting to negotiate a contract all year with DEI.

Earnhardt Junior says that eventually they realized they just weren't in the same ballpark.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was hoping to secure a 51 percent majority in DEI, and a deadline to complete the deal was announced for the end of the month.

That was called short though when the parties realized that they weren't getting very far with the negotiations.

"When we first started our talks and negotiations I was anticipating signing a new contract with DEI and we worked pretty hard on it. We've done contracts with DEI before. This was probably 10 times the work. It was really hectic and difficult,'' said Junior. "I think (DEI Director of Global Operations) Max (Seigel) and (DEI President) Teresa (Earnhardt) they worked hard trying to provide something and try and meet in the middle so to speak and we never even got close. It was just not close to anywhere where we felt we were."

Rumors are flying that Earnhardt's teammate, Martin Truex Jr. and their sponsors would go elsewhere next season, but Earnhardt says that is their call and that he would support whatever they do. He says he loves Tony Jr., his cousin, as a brother, and he will support him 100% in whatever he decides to do.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has spent all nine seasons of his NEXTEL Cup career driving for DEI and he came close to winning a Cup championship in 2003 when he won two races, scoring 21 top-10 finishes and an overall finish in third in the final points standings.

DEI CEO Teresa Earnhardt made this statement:

"While we are very disappointed that Dale Jr. has chosen to leave the family business, we remain excited about our company's future. Our aggressive expansion and diversification plans have not changed. This company has continued to thrive since Dale left us in 2001, and it will thrive following today's announcement."

NASCAR driver Jeff Burton said there will be huge interest by many teams to sign Junior. They better be willing to sign a huge check too Burton said.

Junior, who wants to continue to drive for Chevrolet could sign with either his late fathers former team Richard Childress Racing. RCR wants to start a fourth team next year.

Or Joe Gibbs Racing, because he is friends with current JGR drivers Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin and is a huge Washington Redskins fan.

jj May 23, 2007 10:57 am

dale jr is better with his red car

BJ May 21, 2007 8:25 pm

It's too bad Theresa doesn't realize what she is losing. JR, your father is your co-pilot and will be with you always. So will all your fans, including me. The "Big Red" with the No. 3 sounds good, but I also have a number for you. I'll have to try to find a way to get it to you personally. Go for it, JR. You deserve the very best.

Jon Jon May 17, 2007 6:55 pm

It should have been pretty simple thing to do. Let Junior run the race side of DEI and Theresa run the marketing side of DEI. There are other children also involved here. You have Kerry, Kelly, and Taylor, they too should all play a part and be a co owner of DEI. Place the kids where they can be the best for the organazization to succeed. I hope Theresa will have a change of heart, and the whole family will be involved in the organization. Dale Jr hopefully if he leaves, will drive for RCR, this I believe will bring him the CUP title he is looking for. The RCR stable right now is the sleeping giant, some tweaks and the addition of JR could accelerate RCR dominance over Hendrick. I think Dale SR would be proud if you drove a car with his number again, just as proud as JR's grandfather was he chose to drive his number. Win or lose, we are with you JR, lets go racing wide open!!

Robert May 15, 2007 6:03 pm

you will do better in your NEW car.

greg May 11, 2007 5:53 pm


Brenda Hanten May 11, 2007 1:02 pm

Once again a kid gets screwed by a stepmom, not only is Teresa losing Dale Jr. she is loosing his sister too, really splitting the family in two, she is a greedy shelfish woman, and he should have a say in his own racing career, and be Majority owner of his fathers company, after all he was born before she existed in Dale Sr. life. I go where Jr goes, supported his dad I WILL SUPPORT Dale Jr., Eury if your smart you will go with your cousin, he needs you, and you need him. I feel this is good for Dale JR. he needs better cars and better support.

Judy C. Hull May 11, 2007 12:57 pm

I would think Teresa had made enough money exploiting Dale Sr. Now she is going against his wishes by causing Dale Jr. to leave DEI. Jr driving a Red 3 for RCR! What could be better! I can only hope. We are proud of you Jr.

Tammy Upstate NY May 11, 2007 12:16 pm

I also believe that Theresa is making a big mistake, and way to go JR. Also very happy to hear that Budweiser will probable follow him, they know where there money is!!!! Good Luck JR. We Love You!!!!!!

Dan Kelly May 11, 2007 12:07 pm

Junior we would love to see you drive a Red #3 with Bud all over the car.

sandy May 11, 2007 10:36 am

I'm sure that Mrs.Earnhardt thinks that she knows best, But I think that she has made a very bad mistake,Dale Jr.would have made his fathers company what his father knew what it could do, Now she will have to face the fact that she has made a bad mistake.and her greed and jealous will be her down fall.

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