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CannonBall
05-10-2007, 11:12 AM
Mooresville, N.C. — Let the bidding begin. Dale Earnhardt Jr. confirmed Thursday morning that he's leaving Dale Earnhardt Inc. to seek his racing fortunes elsewhere.

He said he really tried to work out a contract extension with his current employer, Dale Earnhardt Inc., but said the two parties "never got close" to a deal.

He said he was sad to leave behind the familiar turf of the company founded by his late father and the relationships he'd built there.

Earnhardt visited DEI on Thursday in advance of his press conference at JR Motorsports. He said he was excited as a child awaiting Christmas morning to see what offers came in when the news spread that he was available to move to a new team.

Former driver and TV commentator Darrell Waltrip said Earnhardt's announcement will put the major team owners in a bidding war for NASCAR's most marketable and talented drivers.

"There are a lot of owners out there that are licking their chops right now," Waltrip said. "He's the No. 1 man in the sport right now."

"If I had to go hock the farm to put a deal together for him to be my driver or my partner or my whatever I'd do it. That's how much I believe in what he can do."

Penske Racing president Don Miller echoed Waltrip's thoughts.

"Any car owner in their right mind would take [Earnhardt Jr.]," he said. "For one thing, he can bring along one of the best sponsors in the business in Budweiser."

But for Penske's team that would pose a problem because it's already tied to Budweiser's competitor, Miller.

Earnhardt emphasized that he still planned to run hard in his No. 8 Chevy for the remainder of the year and said he asked his crew to not let the upcoming changes affect their focus.

Stoke
05-10-2007, 11:28 AM
I live about 12 miles from Mooresville and about 20 from the DEI Complex..... This Is ALL thats being talked about around here today. TV, Radio, Newspaper..... its everywhere.

CannonBall
05-10-2007, 11:36 AM
I can imagine, it's big racing news.

DEI was crazy to let him go. The most popular driver with the biggest sponsor. All he wanted was controlling stock in DEI, but I guess Teresa didn't want to let go yet.

It'll be interesting to see if he can build a winning team, I know he's had some success in Busch.

Stoke
05-10-2007, 11:53 AM
I think she has under-estimated how much power fan-wise Junior has. Sure, people are still gonna visit the shop because of Sr., but Junior ***IS*** the company.... without him, I can't see DEI doing much of anything....

Stoke
05-11-2007, 05:48 AM
The initial word around here is that its already a done deal - Jr. will be driving the #33 Bud Chevy for Richard Childress next year........

CannonBall
05-11-2007, 07:52 AM
A great article on what a huge mistake this was for DEI.

The Boston Red Sox once sold Babe Ruth so its owner could fund a play. The Portland Trail Blazers once passed on Michael Jordan. The Minnesota Vikings once traded five players and six draft picks for Herschel Walker.

None of those moves were as disastrously bad as the one Teresa Earnhardt made when she thought she could call Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s bluff about leaving his late father's racing team.

Her stepson was serious. Painfully so for DEI.

Thursday at his JR Motorsports headquarters in North Carolina, Earnhardt Jr. announced he is leaving DEI. Whether he is going to drive for his own team or will join an existing competitor is not certain.

What is known is that he'll still be sponsored by Budweiser, still will drive a Chevy and, of course, still be the overwhelmingly most popular and recognizable driver in NASCAR.

Only now, he'll be doing it for even more money and even more (if not total) control.

Junior had asked for a majority stake of DEI to stay. No one yet knows how negotiations between Junior and Teresa broke down – maybe Teresa really did all she could, but it doesn't seem like she was willing to give Junior the 51 percent control he wanted. Now she has 100 percent of a company in ruin.

Financially, the best move for Junior would be to expand his JR Motorsports, currently a Busch Series operation, to Nextel Cup, where he and current teammate Martin Truex could form a two-car team. With engine and technical support from Hendrick Motorsports, winners of seven of the season's 10 races, it could be a formidable team from Daytona on.

Most importantly, it would allow Junior to control the outrageous revenue he brings in, cashing in on the popularity that made him bigger than DEI, even if DEI couldn't realize it.

Since his father's on-track death in 2001, Earnhardt Jr., now 32, has become the driving force in all of NASCAR. He has what, half the fans? Sixty percent? Seventy? Any track, any weekend is a home game for Junior, as a sea of red-clad worshippers make him more beloved than his nearest competitors – the likes of Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon – combined.

When Junior takes the lead the place goes nuts. When someone bumps him into a wreck, they'll be met, eventually, with a hail of boos and beer cans from the grandstands.

There essentially is nothing else like it in sports. Only Tiger Woods controls golf in the same manner – assuring crowds, television ratings and revenue. But Woods doesn't play every week, and culturally golf and NASCAR fans are little alike.

Even so, you wouldn't see Nike Golf let Tiger walk under almost any circumstances. You wouldn't see Nike co-founder Phil Knight assume he could just rebuild the division with someone else. Nike knows Tiger is the golf division.

That Teresa Earnhardt didn't see the same in her stepson is stunning. Maybe she really never does show up at the track? Maybe she really never talks to Junior and still thinks he was some silly, hard-partying kid who didn't know the difference between tens of millions and hundreds of millions?

Whatever it was, it was a colossal miscalculation.

If both Junior and Truex leave (Truex's future is unknown), DEI's Nextel Cup driver stable would consist of rookie Paul Menard and, uh, yeah, that's it.

It will still have the Intimidator's likeness to sell – a considerable cash stream. And Jeffrey Earnhardt – Senior's grandson and Junior's nephew – is under contract, but he's 17 and several years away, if ever.

But other than that, it's a leveling of the company. By not sharing more with Junior, Teresa wound up with all of nothing.

Meanwhile, if Junior keeps this in-house at JR Motorsports (where his sister Kelley is president) he officially can begin to print money. His new operation will select its marketing partners from a crush of Fortune 500 companies.

In terms of merchandise sales, this could be historic; the most popular driver with a new car and number.

Many fans hope Richard Childress Racing would surrender the rights to Senior's No. 3 and allow Junior to run it himself, but no matter the number, there are millions of Junior fans now in the market for new T-shirts, bumper stickers, key chains, flag, tattoos and heaven knows what else. The No. 8 is obsolete.

It's like the New York Yankees changing colors. Only with more fans who are more loyal.

If Junior is as smart as he has demonstrated recently, he'd invest some of that revenue into a great CEO for JR Motorsports.

And that is, perhaps, why just joining an existing team, albeit with a hefty compensation or partial ownership deal, would be the better choice. The demands of being an owner-driver can become too big. It's a double responsibility that has proven extremely challenging for Michael Waltrip and Robby Gordon.

Earnhardt needs to concentrate mostly on driving.

Of course, it's not like he's been tearing up the track. The most remarkable thing about his popularity is that it is not – like Tiger Woods' – based on dominating the competition.

Junior never has won a Cup title, hasn't won a race in a year and has taken checkers just twice since 2004. Yet he has the most fans.

The on-track results had to factor into his decision to walk. It's not like DEI was giving him the best car each week to begin with. If they weren't going to meet his business demands either, what was the point?

But for whatever reason, Teresa Earnhardt figured he wouldn't leave his daddy's company. Maybe she underbid him. Maybe she refused to give up control. Maybe she banked on a family discount.

Whatever it was, she guessed wrong. Terribly so. The good news for DEI is it only took the Red Sox 86 years to recover from something so dumb.

Stoke
05-11-2007, 07:59 AM
Richard Childress has scheduled a press conference for sometime today at Darlington....

Wonder what he's got to talk about......

Stoke
05-11-2007, 08:03 AM
FOX8 WGHP -- Finding a new home for Dale Earnhardt Jr. could end less than a day after he announced plans to leave Dale Earnhardt Inc.

FOX8 News has confirmed Junior is negotiating late Thursday night with Richard Childress to join Richard Childress Racing. An announcement could come as early as Friday. Childress has scheduled a news conference Friday at Darlington Raceway, the site of Saturday's NASCAR Nextel Cup race.

Childress and Dale Earnhardt won six Nextel Cup championships before Earnhardt was killed on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.

Sports Director Rich Brenner has also confirmed the talks between Junior and Childress include plans for Earnhardt driving the #33 Chevrolet for RCR. Budweiser, the primary sponsor for Junior's No. 8 car with DEI, will follow him to his new race team.

In Thursday's news conference, Junior said he has hesitations about driving his father's No. 3. Junior's current car number (8) belongs to DEI.

SilverTalon
05-11-2007, 08:18 AM
Richard Childress has scheduled a press conference for sometime today at Darlington....

Wonder what he's got to talk about......

I'm hoping he talks about boobies....much more interesting than racing. :p

CannonBall
05-11-2007, 08:39 AM
I'm hoping he talks about boobies....much more interesting than racing. :p

A boobie race would be the greatest sporting event of all time!! I'm willing to offer a sponsorship!

SilverTalon
05-11-2007, 08:43 AM
Mmmmm....Topless Track....all male competitors banned, all cars are open top with in-car cameras.

Yes, highest rated program ever.

Stoke
05-11-2007, 08:48 AM
I'm there.

Stoke
05-11-2007, 09:04 AM
Richard Childress has scheduled a press conference for sometime today at Darlington....

Wonder what he's got to talk about......


been told by sources at the track that Richard Childress addressed the media at Darlington this morning and denies signing Earnhardt,

Stoke
05-11-2007, 10:47 AM
Richard Childress said Friday morning at Darlington Raceway that he has not signed Dale Earnhardt, Jr., to drive for Richard Childress Racing and is giving the driver time and space to weigh his options. Along with Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing, RCR is considered one of three front-runners to sign Earnhardt, Jr. for 2008 and beyond, but the car owner emphatically denied that a deal already had been struck, has reported by at least three television stations Thursday. "Dale, Jr. just made a major decision in his career and in his life yesterday," Childress said Friday morning at Darlington. "And out of respect for Teresa (Dale Earnhardt, Inc. team owner Earnhardt), Dale, Jr. and this situation, let´s all give him some time to make the decisions that he needs to make and be fair. He´s got a lot of tough decisions to make coming up with the direction he´s going, and I just think it´s fair if we all let him have some space and some time to kind of think about what he wants to do in the future." Childress said that while he would welcome Earnhardt on his team, the two sides have not yet begun negotiations. "We will sit and talk, I´m sure," Childress said. "I´m hoping he´s considering us, but I think right now, we just give him some time and space to do is own due diligence on the race teams he´s looking at. I´ve been friends with the family for many years and I´m sure we´ll talk." As for television reports that a deal was already struck, Childress was categorical in his denials. "There´s nothing to it ... it´s way too soon to even talk about it," Childress said