With two races of the Nascar Nextel Cup series in the books, Dale Earnhardt Inc. finds itself in a deep hole. Out of the three teams at DEI, Martin Truex Jr. ranks highest in points at 38th. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Paul Menard find themselves 40th and 43rd in points. Does this company sound like it is made of championship caliber? Even Brian Vickers, Boris Said, and Mike Wallace who have participated in only one of the two races are higher in points than all three DEI teams. With only two races complete out of a grueling 36 it is way too early to count DEI out of their drivers making the chase and competing for a championship. But with such poor results from the entire company, many fans are questioning why DEI is the only company so far behind. There’s only one answer: Teresa Earnhardt.
DEI suffered two blown engines on Sunday at the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway and when asked what the problem might be, Dale Jr. replied that the unleaded fuel had thrown them a curve ball. We cannot question the driving skills of the drivers or their motivation after their engine blows; this is obviously something that is out of the drivers’ hands. We can however question Teresa’s motivation and ownership skills. Prior to Dale Earnhardt’s death in 2001, DEI dominated restrictor plate races and it carried on in the next couple of years. But DEI has lost their dominance at the restrictor plate races, not having won a race at neither Daytona nor Talladega since 2004. Teresa has now got DEI playing catch up, as they are far behind Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing just to name a few. DEI has got to figure out the problem they had with the unleaded fuel at California Speedway. Not only did they have two engine failures on Sunday, but they also had two failures in testing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in late January. So why is DEI struggling more than any other company to get the engine running on unleaded fuel? The answer to that: once again, Teresa has got this company behind, and I mean a couple of laps down. With the two engine failures at Las Vegas prior to the start of the season, Teresa had a whole month to get “her” company ready for California Speedway where they’d use unleaded fuel once again. Now to get to the point, what has happened to this company in the first two races of the season is unacceptable. And it is not to blame on the drivers; it climbs all the way up the ladder to the owner who is the leader of the company, Teresa. It is amazing to see how Dale Jr. actually kept his composure in his interview after the blown engine on Sunday. Martin Truex Jr. on the other hand seemed very frustrated and has reason to be especially after his embarrassing rookie year. So now fans ask, should Teresa give majority ownership to Dale Jr.? Let’s just say that the existence of DEI relies on Dale Jr. becoming the majority owner.
Teresa is holding the company back from reaching their full potential and racing with the elites of NASCAR. Earlier this week DEI tested the Car of Tomorrow and to no surprise all three teams were towards the bottom of the speed charts. Eight races this season will be in the COT and NASCAR is considering going full time with the car next season. Prior to testing, Dale Jr. himself said that DEI was way behind on the development on the COT, but who could fans blame for this? I think you know the answer by now.
Last season during Truex Jr.’s rookie season, many writers and experts had picked him to win the Rookie of the Year award. Truex Jr.’s rookie season was a disaster and he ended up finishing 19th in the points standings with no wins and five top-ten finishes. How could a two time Busch Series champion with such great potential have such a poor rookie season? Truex Jr. was given mediocre equipment at best and the race results showed that. During Dale Jr.’s rookie season when Dale Sr. was the owner, Dale Jr. had two wins and this was at a stage when DEI was a brand new race team.
So now I ask, why would Dale Jr. stay at DEI? Is there really any reason to? Why would Dale Jr. want to go back to a team that is plagued with engine problems and has an owner who hardly shows her face? If Dale Jr. ever wants to compete for a championship his chances are better with Richard Childress Racing. If Dale Jr. does leave DEI, the organization will not last more than two seasons and like Tony Stewart said, “DEI without Dale Jr. is a museum.”
What do you think of DEI's situation? Do you think Teresa should be at fault for DEI's troubles? Should Dale Jr. receive majority ownership? or should Dale Jr. leave DEI? Will Dale Jr. and Truex Jr. come back and make the chase? I'd love to hear your thoughts!