There is much speculation out there in the racing community about Jr's big announcement to be made Thurs. at approx. 11:00 am from JR Motorsports - even ESPN2 will be carrying the announcement live!
A lot of people, David Poole included, feel that Jr is done with DEI and that he will be moving on, most likely to Rick Hendrick. That poses a problem though, Rick already has a 4 car team and according to NASCAR rules you can't have any more. What to do, what to do? Well there is a rumour that Jr will take his sponsor and Martin Truex Jr (and I assume his sponsor) to JR Motorsports and officially run under that team name all the while using Hendrick motors and technology and virtually become a 'satellite' Hendrick organization.
Rick could fire Casey Mears and put Jr in the 25 car and maybe change the number, although I don't think Teresa will give up the rights to the #8 that easily. Although I don't see Rick firing Casey, but you never know.
Jr could go and race for Haas, which is really a 'satellite' Hendrick operation as of late. But Haas has been having some legal problems and even though his organization looks like it will be fine regardless of what happens in court I personally would be cautious about signing with a team that could potentially close its doors at the end of the season.
Dale Jr could go to RCR. Childress would be happy to have him and they are currently a 3 car team. Could Richard have been holding off making a 4 car team until Jr's contract was renewed just in case of the possibility that Jr might become a free agent? Hmm ... if that is the case then Richard is more of shrewd business man than I have given him credit for.
The most recent 'info', 'rumour', 'whatever-you-want-to-call-it' that I found puts some of these possibilities on the back burner.
So what is going to happen? Most people think he is just announcing that he is leaving DEI and not yet announcing where he is going to be in 2008. Most speculate that whether he announces his plans for 2008 or not, just announcing that he is leaving will put the final nail in the coffin otherwise known as DEI. I don't know.
Since everybody and their brother are out there voicing their expert, and sometimes stupid, opinions I'll throw in my two cents (probably more of the stupid variety than the expert, but none-the-less ... ). I'm going out on a limb and going to offer up 2 possibilities that I have not found.
1) Jr stays with DEI and his 51% ownership is fazed in over the duration of the contract while making sure that the remainder of the late Earnhardt children are taken care of - including Taylor Nicole, Teresa and Dale Sr's daughter.
2) Jr splits and goes to Joe Gibbs Racing and takes Tony Eury with him. Everybody is currently talking about how the Hendrick organization is the end-all and be-all, but JGR isn't exactly chopped liver either. If it weren't for some stupid driver errors and some on track misfortunes JGR could have easily won 4 of the last 10 races. Plus that, they could change the 8 to 18! I don't think Yeley would mind finding another number (maybe 19) if that meant having Dale Jr as a teammate - I wouldn't. Also, Jr and Tony get along quite nicely and race well together - especially on restrictor plate tracks.
Well, that is that. We will just have to see what happens. No matter what is announced, at least it'll give us something to talk about over the next few days.
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Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chuck Burton