The Pit Stop

May 22, 2007 12:29 AM

Strange Days Ahead For Dale Jr

A lot has happened since Dale Jr announced his leaving of DEI at the end of the season.

1) Joe Gibbs Racing states that having Jr would be great, but having his sponsor would not be so great. Joe Gibbs Racing has a thing about alcohol sponsorships, but oddly enough they still participate in the Bud Shootout, which does nothing really but promote Budweiser Beer, and Denny Hamlin took home the winning pay check a few years ago. Hmm ... maybe they will take the Bud sponsorship if the money is there. Stay tuned for this one - I don't think it is done just yet.

2) DEI and RCR announce that they are going to merge their engine programs and build an engine complex halfway between their race shops. What is the significance to this you ask? It has several implications:

- That means that DEI will be using Chevy cars next season and the proposed merge with RYR has changed.

- That means DEI is using RCR technology for its engines, isn't this the way Dale Jr would have gone if he had got his 51%? After all, he does use RCR engines in his Busch cars.

- Could this be a ploy by DEI to lure Dale Jr back into the fold? Could very well be, I mean just because he says he is leaving doesn't mean he really is.

- Could this deal with DEI, in particular Teresa Earnhardt, somehow influence Richard Childress in not signing Dale Jr? I hope not, I don't think Richard is that type of guy, but you never know.

3) Rick Hendrick announces that "there is no room at the inn" for Dale Jr in his organization, but he would be more than willing to help him with engines and technology if he were to go it by himself at JRM. Man, that must have been a tough pill to swallow for both Rick and Dale Jr, although with the way Kurt Busch has been acting lately I wouldn't be surprised if there were a vacancy in the near future.

So what does this all mean if your name is Dale Earnhardt Jr? I don't know, ask him. I can only speculate.

So climbing out on the limb of speculation here are some things that Jr should be considering at this point:

1) If Joe Gibbs Racing doesn't like Budweiser then how about NAPA? I bet NAPA would be willing to move to a proven organization with a proven and marketable driver whom they've had a previous relationship with in the past. Better talk to Kelley about this.

2) Is the merging of RCR and DEI's engine programs going to help each team in the long run? Probably so, but how much is this going to influence contract negotiations with RCR? Better talk to Kelley about this.

3) How can Dale Jr get Kyle to totally flip out and loose his ride with Rick Hendrick without being too obvious? I don't think he has to do a thing, Kyle is doing a good job at killing his driving career with Rick Hendrick. And can he really go it on his own at JRM with support from Hendrick? Better talk to Kelley about these things.

Where does all of this leave Dale Jr? At Ginn Racing - although I still think the JGR thing is doable especially if NAPA is involved.

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