Contract Status: Driver: 2009; Sponsors: 200?
DEI being sued: Dale Earnhardt Inc., founded by the late seven-time Nascar champion, was sued by a financial firm that accuses it of reneging on a deal to sell the firm a $3.25 million claim in General Motors Corp.’s bankruptcy. The Seaport Group LLC, based in New York, sued Feb. 25 in federal court in New York. The company wants the court to force Dale Earnhardt Inc. to deliver the claim or to award money damages. “After DEI signed a binding contract to sell its claim to Seaport, the value of the claim increased dramatically, and DEI refused to honor the deal,” Seaport Group wrote in its complaint. Dale Earnhardt Inc., based in Mooresville, North Carolina, agreed to sell the claim for $783,604, according to the complaint. A call to DEI wasn’t answered.(Business Week))(3-2-2010)
Almirola drops lawsuit: Aric Almirola has dropped his breach-of-contract lawsuit against Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. Almirola, who drove in seven Sprint Cup races this year for the team before his car was parked because of a lack of sponsorship, filed the complaint earlier this month in North Carolina Superior Court. He had it dismissed last Thursday, according to court records.(SceneDaily)(11-26-2009)
Almirola files lawsuit: Aric Almirola has filed a lawsuit in North Carolina Superior Court alleging that Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. have breached their contract with him. Almirola, who drove in seven Sprint Cup races this year for the team before his car was parked because of a lack of sponsorship, filed the complaint last Thursday. DEI had announced last year that Almirola would run a full season in 2009, but the organization later merged its Cup operation with Chip Ganassi Racing to form Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. The complaint does not detail the circumstances surrounding the breach-of-contract claim and asks the court to refer the matter to arbitration. Almirola had filed two notices of a claim last month, and he had until Thursday to file the actual complaint. He is dismissing his claim against Chip Ganassi Racing and EGR co-owner Teresa Earnhardt but proceeding in the one against EGR and DEI. The team had no comment.(SceneDaily)(11-11-2009)
Almirola files papers against EGR: Aric Almirola has filed paperwork in North Carolina Superior Court indicating that he has a breach-of-contract dispute with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. Almirola, who competed in seven Sprint Cup races this year for the team before his [#8 Chevy] car was parked because of a lack of sponsorship, filed the notice in the Charlotte court last Friday [10-16], asking for 20 days to file a complaint in the matter. This type of request results in a summons to the other party and typically is filed to start a civil action but the person hopes the matter gets settled before having to file the lawsuit specifics. Almirola indicates that the nature of his claim is breach of contract and unfair and deceptive trade practices. Almirola filed two notices, one against EGR and DEI and another against Chip Ganassi Racing and team co-owner Teresa Earnhardt. Almirola had a contract with DEI, which merged its Cup operation with Chip Ganassi Racing at the end of the 2008 season to form Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. He has until Nov. 5 to file an actual complaint. “We’re disappointed at the situation with Aric but are hopeful that we will come to an agreement soon,” EGR spokesman John Olguin said. Almirola has 26 career Sprint Cup starts, with a career best finish of eighth at Bristol in March 2008. He drove in 17 races in 2007 and 2008 as he shared the ride with Mark Martin in the #8 Chevy at DEI.(SceneDaily)(10-22-2009)
#8 team returning in 2010? The folks at Dale Earnhardt Inc. are working at bringing the #8 car to both the Nationwide and Cup series next year. The plan would be for Jeffrey Earnhardt, grandson of Dale, to drive the #8 car in the Nationwide series and have that team based out of the DEI shops in Mooresville, N.C. If sponsorship can be found, the #8 car would return to Cup and be based out of the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing shop in Cocord, N.C. "We do have plans to bring the #8 car back for next season,'' Jeff Steiner executive VP and general manager at DEI, told me [Dustin Long] Wednesday afternoon. "We are working with a number of sponsors. It's not a for sure deal. We haven't announced that we are officially bringing it back. .. I don't think we would see anything with the #8 car at the Sprint Cup level in 2009. I think based where we're at with sponsor discussions, I don't foresee that happening this year, but it is one of our aspirations to get that car back on the track together with the #1 and the #42.''
So, would the #8 come back fulltime or would it be acceptable to bring it back part time in 2010?"I think we would consider something part time,'' Steiner told me. "In today's economy and today's NASCAR, we need to look at all potential opportunities to get either young developmental drivers or other people out on the track and if we have an opportunity to do that and get the #8 back on the track in 2010, I think we would certainly consider that.
As for Jeffrey Earnhardt: "That would be something we would be looking at running him in an #8 fulltime in the Nationwide level,'' Steiner said. "We're still working on sponsorships. Our intention ... having him in a family number. I think we're hopeful (of a fulltime schedule for Jeffrey). We're pretty bullish on that potential for 2010."(Roanoke Times)(9-24-2009)
Ganassi to Gibbs? UPDATE2 denied: The latest rumor is that Chip Ganassi somehow will merge his Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing team [Chevy's w/#1-Truex Jr. (leaves end of 2009) and #42-Montoya] with Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota's w/#18-Busch, #11-Hamlin, #20-Logano], possibly eliminating another owner.(SPEEDtv/Jimmy Spencer)(7-23-2009)
UPDATE: Don't believe the latest that has Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates partnering with Joe Gibbs Racing, making Juan Pablo Montoya JGR's fourth driver with Target as the sponsor. Not that there hasn't been some conversation looking at that as a possible marriage. There are conversations between almost every organization about almost everything these days. But this one hasn't been talked about enough to warrant it as a substantial rumor. It likely never will be. Ganassi is under the umbrella of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with its partnership with DEI, and he's happy with that relationship. "We have an affiliation now," he said Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "We have an affiliation with Earnhardt with EGR [and] with Childress [Richard Childress Racing]. I'm very happy with that. Knock on wood. We've had no issues. The idea of what we put together at the end of the season last year, it's been mission accomplished."(ESPN Insider)(7-25-2009)
UPDATE 2: Statement from Chip Ganassi per the Speculation about Potential Merger with Other Race Teams: “There have been numerous incorrect reports in the media over the last few days about a possible merger of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and other race teams and I can tell you that we have never had any such conversation with any team, nor do we plan to. Furthermore, as I have said many times, we are currently a FIVE-car team, we just happen to compete over three different forms of racing. We fully expect to continue to be a two car NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team in 2010 and beyond and have no plans of merging or downsizing at all. We are a Chevrolet team and focused solely on making The Chase for the Sprint Cup.”(EGR)(7-27-2009)
Almirola's future up in the air: Since the #8 team folded, Aric Almirola has gone to almost every Cup race in an effort to keep his name circulating in the garage as a driver looking for a ride. "I've been going and talking to people and showing my face," said the 25-year-old Tampa, Fla., native. "I'm really scared of basically [being] out of sight, out of mind. I've been trying really hard to not let that happen. I don't want to be forgotten, and I want people to think about me if they have an opportunity or if they're looking to put somebody in the seat. … Or if I run into somebody and they're thinking about it, I want to be someone that crosses their mind." Almirola, who remains under contract with EGR, says he has talked with team officials about possibly returning to the seat at some point but has been given no indication that will happen. Whether with EGR or another team, Almirola still wants to return to NASCAR's top series as soon as possible. He says he would be open to taking a full-time Truck ride in 2010, however, if the opportunity arose. Right now, though, he doesn't know what his future in the sport - long term or short team - holds.(SceneDaily)(7-22-2009)
- Almirola hasn't discussed #1 ride: UPDATE: Earnhardt/Ganassi could have an opening in 2009 if, as expected, #1-Martin Truex announces this week he will leave for MWR, but Almirola says he had not spoken with Ganassi about it. "That's not up to me," he said. "Those have been internal discussions that really have not involved me. Whatever happens I will be ready, race there or race somewhere else." Almirola said Ganassi has suggested he would allow him to leave if he finds work elsewhere.(St. Petersburg Times)(7-5-2009)
UPDATE: Aric Almirola was hanging out at the #42 transporter [at Daytona] with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing president Steve "Jake" Lauletta. If I [Lee Spencer] had to bet, Almirola will be back in the #8 Chevy by the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. The race pays exceptionally well and apparently EGR is close to securing sponsorship.(FoxSports)(7-6-2009)
- EGR to Toyota? Once #1-Martin Truex Jr. announces that he's driving for Michael Waltrip Racing next month, where does that leave Earnhardt Ganassi Racing? With #42-Juan Pablo Montoya. But after GM dramatically reduced its assistance to EGR last week, is now the time that Chip Ganassi bolts to Toyota? One hot rumor swirling around the garage was a partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing to run Montoya in a fourth car similar to the situation that Marcos Ambrose has with MWR. On Sunday, JGR president J.D. Gibbs said, "No, no, no...," but the guess is his bottom line could say "yes".(FoxSports)(6-23-2009)
- Almirola closing in on deal: #8-Aric Almirola hasn't given up on returning to the Sprint Cup series this season. The driver of Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing's #8 car lost his ride seven races into the season due to lack of sponsorship. He said on Friday that recent talks with sponsors have gone well and that there are discussions about a deal for the second half of the season.
"Now it's about getting them to sign the deal," Almirola said. Almirola said losing the ride has been challenging for him, that he's spending a lot of time playing video games and doing yard work waiting for something to break. "I just want to race," he said. "I'll race Nationwide, Cup, whatever. I don't do this because it's a job. I do it because I love it."(ESPN Insider)(5-16-2009)
- Latest on the future of the #8 car: Steve Lauletta, president of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, says that efforts continue to find sponsorship for the #8 car [with driver Aric Almirola] that the team quit running earlier this month. "I'm hoping that something's going to come forward pretty quick,'' Lauletta said. "I think what we're looking at right now is a second half of the season into 2010 if we can get one of these deals done.''(Roanoke Times)(4-26-2009)
- Dale Jr. comments on the demise of the #8: from a team Chevy Dale Earnhardt Jr. press conference Transcript:
IS IT SAD THAT THERE IS NO NUMBER EIGHT AT THE TRACK THIS WEEKEND? “I’m pretty sad, but I don’t think it will be gone for long. I read a lot of the input that you guys (media) had all week and sort of got the temperature of what the press was thinking and what the fans were thinking. The one thing that I kept thinking about when I was reading those articles was how glad I was that Robert (Yates) and Doug (Yates) and everybody at Yates -- that they were willing to work with me on the 88 because I don’t have any malice about what Teresa’s (Earnhardt) decision was on keeping that number.
“If I was in her shoes I probably would have done the exact same thing and that has been the case with every other owner in the past. That’s what the understanding is that the number belongs to them and I understood that. I really wasn’t as upset about it as a lot of people probably thought I was and it wasn’t as ugly of a situation as a lot of people felt like it was. I was glad that I found Robert (Yates) and the guys willing to talk about the 88 because that was a number with a ton of history and something that I could really wrap my hands around and get excited about. The eight will be back and someone else will add to it and do something great with it and hopefully it’s Ganassi and Teresa (Earnhardt). Hopefully they can get it back on the race track and I wouldn’t ever count them out. It’s a tough economy. I just wish them all the success and I wish that they will get that car funded to where Aric (Almirola) can get back on the race track, he’s a super guy and needs to be out on the race track with us and I think it’s small pieces to the puzzle really. I don’t think it’s something that’s going to be permanent, hopefully.”
DO YOU THINK YOUR GRANDMA (MARTHA EARNHARDT) IS UPSET ABOUT THE NUMBER NOT BEING HERE? “No, not at all. She especially, we have been around this sport for a long time and you have to get used to change and I’ve worked with a lot of different people. Some I wish today I was still working with, but circumstances prevented that and you have to be able to let go of that and move on and try to do the best you can. That’s the same way in every situation in this sport. Yes I wish I would have never had to have changed numbers -- I had to under the circumstances and I am happy to have the opportunity to use the 88 and I hope I do a good job with it for all the guys that have used it in the past. That’s really the only thing that I think about right now. Having that number there’s a little bit of responsibility with it because it was pretty historic so I must concentrate on that, you know?”(Chevy/GM PR)(4-18-2009)
- Dale Earnhardt Inc. appoints two new executives: Dale Earnhardt Inc. President and CEO Teresa Earnhardt announced the appointments of two executive leaders for the company on Thursday. Jeff Steiner was named Executive Vice President and General Manager responsible for the oversight and management of DEI, the Dale Earnhardt Foundation and special initiatives relating to Earnhardt properties. Steiner began his role at the company on April 1. Chad Warpula was appointed as Executive Vice President and General Counsel for DEI. Warpula will oversee the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates NASCAR Sprint Cup team and handle all legal matters for DEI, EGR and Earnhardt-Childress Racing. Both executives will report to Teresa Earnhardt.(Scene Daily)(4-10-2009)
- EGR's #8 car parked UPDATE: The #8 Sprint Cup Chevy, the centerpiece of Dale Earnhardt Inc. before its merger with Chip Ganassi Racing, is the latest casualty of the economy. Sources close to the situation said officials at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates are parking the car driven by Aric Almirola until sponsorship is found. An announcement could come in the next 24 hours. EGR officials were not available for comment, but sources said a handful of employees have been let go, and that number could grow to 40 to 50 before all is said and done. Almirola ranks 37th in owner points heading into next week's race at Phoenix International Raceway. He is 59 points behind rookie Joey Logano, who occupies the final spot for the top 35 guaranteed a position in each race. Almirola has an average finish of 32.9 this season, finishing no better than 21st in seven races and no better than 33rd the past three. Parking that car leaves EGR with two full-time drivers in Martin Truex Jr. and Juan Pablo Montoya. Sources deny a report that Truex has a clause in his contract that would free him and primary sponsor Bass Pro Shops if he doesn't have at least two fulltime teammates.(ESPN.com)(4-7-2009)
UPDATE: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing president Steve Lauletta is optimistic the #8 car made famous by Dale Earnhardt Jr. will return to the track one day, but not until sponsorship is found. Lauletta confirmed on Wednesday an ESPN.com report that operations for the car driven by Aric Almirola has been suspended until sponsorship is found. Lauletta would not confirm how many employees were released, but sources said the total would be between 40 and 50. "The plan was to run the 8 all season," Lauletta said. "We worked really hard to get a few sponsors. We're working really hard to continue to get it back on the track. But when you're in the position we're in where you don't know what sponsor goes on a car a couple of weeks out, how the team is going to progress in order to race two and three weeks out, it takes a lot of focus away from everybody at the shop."(ESPN)(4-9-2009)
- Two teams could be missing from Phoenix UPDATE #71 will be there: on SPEEDtv's SPEED Report, Bob Dilner reported that two Sprint Cup teams could be missing at Phoenix on the weekend on April 17-18th. #8-Aric Almirola [the team plans to meet about the future of the #8 on Tuesday, Aprl 7th] and the #71 TRG Motorsports team that David Gilliland drives. Gilliand said the team needs a sponsor to continue on.(4-6-2009)
UPDATE: on Monday's “The Morning Drive” on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, hosts Mike Bagley and David Poole spoke with Slugger Labbe, crew chief for TRG Motorsports’ #71 Chevy and driver David Gilliland, about the team’s plans for the Phoenix race on April 18.
Host, David Poole: “There was at least one report that said that you guys might not be going to Phoenix. What’s the status of that deal?”
Slugger Labbe: “Well, we’re going. You know, we’ve got the motor sitting here, the gear transmission. We just got the car back from getting the body fixed and it is in the paint booth now getting ready. We’re planning on going. David is wanting to race. He’s going to run the West race out there, whatever that series is. He’s going to run out there. I’m going to go help him. And, you know, Kevin [Buckler] is trying to secure funding. We’re so close to the top 35. It helps that they say the #8 car is shut down. He’s 37th in points. The next three guys behind us all missed the race at Texas this weekend so we’re in a unique situation that we have to go.”
“The Morning Drive” airs weekdays (7-11am/et) exclusively on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio (available nationwide on SIRIUS channel 128 and on XM channel 128 with the “Best of XM” programming package.)(4-6-2009)
- EGR looks to have a 'common chassis' soon: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing [#1-Truex Jr., #8-Almirola, #42-Montoya] is planning on a common chassis constructed using the best ideas from both elements of EGR. It might appear as early as in two weeks when the season resumes at Phoenix after next weekend's Easter break. EGR competition director Steve Hmiel said Truex and Montoya might be in "common cars" as early as in two weeks on the 1-mile Phoenix oval, or as late as the Sprint All-Star Race at Lowe's Motor Speedway in May. "There's one done now that could go to Phoenix if they desire," Hmiel said. "We finished one Thursday morning before we came out [to Texas] and we finished another one [Friday]."(NASCAR.com)(4-5-2009)
- If #8 team closes, Truex could be free agent..to Gibbs? UPDATE Bass Pro Shops not leaving: The buzz in the garage has Earnhardt Ganassi Racing shutting down the #8 Chevy and sidelining Aric Almirola after this weekend if a sponsor doesn't magically appear. If that happens, three contracts are affected: #1-Martin Truex Jr., Bass Pro Shops Racing and Chevy. Truex's contract states that he must have two teammates or he can leave the team. Bass Pro Shops has a performance clause and with Truex 28th in owner points, the #1 team is in a precarious position. Finally, Chevy can alter its support to EGR if three teams are not under the roof. The hot rumor at Martinsville last week had Truex replacing Joey Logano in the #20 Home Depot Toyota. Joe Gibbs Racing president J.D. Gibbs insisted Sunday and again by phone on Wednesday that "Joey's our guy. We haven't had any conversations with anyone," Gibbs said. "We'd like to have someone in line by summer time, but you have to sit down, look at what partner is available, what driver is available and who would be a good fit for the team. We had [#96] Hall of Fame last year and we don't have it now. So we have room for a fourth team. We'd love to have it."
Gibbs mentioned JGR's plans to run the #02 Farm Bureau Toyota to race later this season. An announcement was made in January that Farm Bureau Insurance was signed for six Cup races in 2009, including being the primary sponsor for two Cup races on Denny Hamlin's car at Darlington and Atlanta and on Logano's car at Martinsville. A fourth team will feature Farm Bureau as the title sponsor for the fall races at LMS, Texas and Homestead. Gibbs did not believe Farm Bureau was committed to a level where it could expand as a full-time sponsor in 2010.
Truex said on Friday that he's committed to staying the course. "When I give someone my word by signing a contract, if they keep theirs and I keep my mind, there's no reason to ever think about doing anything else, obviously," Truex said. "Right now, my focus is on getting this car better and moving up in the points. We're back here where we shouldn't be. We've never been back this far before and we've had a tough start to the year."
As for Bass Pro Shops, if Truex does leave. don't be surprised if the sponsor fills out Ryan Newman's program on the #39 Chevy at Stewart-Haas Racing [US Army is there for 23 races]. That deal, which is valued between $8 million and $10 million, could go down before summer.(FoxSports)(4-4-2009)
UPDATE: SPEEDtv's Hermie Sadler reported that EGR's President Steve Lauletta said they would be meeting Tuesday to decide the fate of the #8 team and that Bass Pro Shops is signed with EGR thru the 2010 season and there is no 'out' for them.(4-5-2009)
- Guitar Hero Metallica returns at Texas: Guitar Hero Metallica will again partner with #8-Aric Almirola and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing for this weekend’s Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. The game, which was released on March 29, allows users to enter the world of Lars Ulrich, James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo and experience the intensity and skill of one of the greatest bands of all time.(EGR PR), see an image of the scheme on my #8 Team Schemes page.(4-1-2009)
- No Sponsor for Almirola after Texas: Aric Almirola, who has a commitment from Earnhardt Ganassi Racing to field the #8 Chevy through next week's race at Texas Motor Speedway, still needs sponsorship for the April 18 race at Phoenix International Raceway.
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing President Steve Lauletta said he had “nothing new to report” when asked if sponsorship had been secured for Almirola and if Almirola was going to be able to go to Phoenix. Almirola had been scheduled to run the full season at Dale Earnhardt Inc., and after the DEI merger with Chip Ganassi Racing in November, he was named as the driver of the #8 car. But the organization has had to put together sponsorship to keep that team going.(SceneDaily)(3-30-2009)
- Almirola to 'Ride the Lightning' at Martinsville: Coinciding with the launch of Activision Publishing, Inc.’s Guitar Hero Metallica, the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates’ #8 Chevy, driven by 25-year-old Aric Almirola, will be primarily sponsored by the highly-anticipated video game at Martinsville Speedway. This will be the third race during the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season under the Guitar Hero banner for Almirola and the #8 team. The #8 Chevy powerful design draws it’s inspiration from the intense yet electrifying music of Metallica [a jayski fave]. For more information anout the game, log onto metallica.guitarhero.com.(Earnhardt Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR). See an image of the Metallica scheme, and all the other schemes used by Almirola in 2009 on my #8 Team Schemes page.(3-27-2009)
- Bobby Ginn says DEI owes Hendrick: Former team owner Bobby Ginn contends that he owes only 20% of the $1.5 million that Hendrick Motorsports is seeking from Ginn Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. because of the termination of Ginn’s engine contract with Hendrick in 2007, according to court documents. Hendrick Motorsports is suing DEI and Ginn in North Carolina Superior Court over the termination fee resulting from the merger of DEI and Ginn in July 2007. DEI claims Ginn Racing and Ginn are responsible for a $1.5 million fee that was due Nov. 15, 2008. Ginn states in a recent filing that because a new entity was created that was 80% owned by DEI and 20% owned by Ginn, that DEI is responsible for 80% of the fee due Hendrick. In filing his response to Hendrick’s and DEI’s claims, Ginn states that it had been agreed that the $1.5 million fee would be paid from operating revenues of the new entity, which was named “DEI/Ginn – Team #01.” If there were not sufficient revenues to pay the fee, then the responsibility for payment would be split 80/20, Ginn contends.
Although not broken down in the suit, 80% of $1.5 million would be $1.2 million, with $300,000 left for Ginn to pay. The $1.5 million fee was the second of two termination fees. The first payment of $1.754 million was paid by Ginn, with a portion of the proceeds received “as part of the merger and acquisition transaction,” according to Ginn’s filing.(SceneDaily)(3-17-2009)
- Earnhardt Ganassi still searching for #8 sponsorship: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing has sponsorship for Aric Almirola for the upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Bristol and Martinsville and will definitely enter him April 5 at Texas, but his schedule beyond Texas is still pending sponsorship, EGR President Steve Lauletta says. Dale Earnhardt Inc. had intended to run Almirola the full 2009 season, but after the partnership with Chip Ganaasi Racing was formed last November, Almirola's situation has been cloudy with no full-time sponsor. Almirola has 22 career Cup starts, and the #8 team currently is 36th in the owner points. Lauletta confirmed that Almirola will have Champion on the car for Bristol and then Guitar Hero: Metallica for Martinsville, but he wouldn't elaborate on those companies' plans for future events. He said the team still needs sponsorship to get past Texas.(Scene Daily)(3-13-2009)
- Cub Cadet to sponsor #8 at Atlanta: Cub Cadet will come on board to partner with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing driver Aric Almirola and the #8 Chevy this weekend in Atlanta. The opportunity was presented through the strong relationship that Earnhardt Ganassi Racing has with partner BASS Pro Shops, one of Cub Cadet’s largest customers. Cub Cadet is a brand of MTD Products, a manufacturer of premier outdoor power equipment. This includes utility vehicles, home owner and professional lawn & garden products, compact tractors, riding mowers, walk behind mowers and hand held power equipment. MTD was founded in 1932 and is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. Cub Cadet’s products are sold through a network of independent dealers including BASS Pro Shops. Cub Cadet is the Official Lawn & Garden Equipment of NASCAR. For more information on Cub Cadet, please visit www.cubcadet.com.(EGR PR)(3-5-2009)
- Teams looking for sponsors: The most important part of Sunday's Auto Club 500 was not what happened on the track but what took place in the garage, the suites and elsewhere. Some teams had prospective sponsors at Auto Club Speedway as they look to find additional funding. Teams looking for sponsors range from Roush Fenway Racing to Richard Petty Motorsports to Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and others. Richard Petty Motorsports is trying to find sponsorship for #44-AJ Allmendinger beyond the nine races it has for him this season. De Cordell, chief sales and marketing officer, says the team also is looking for a primary sponsor for about six races on #43-Reed Sorenson's car and a major associate sponsor for #9-Kasey Kahne. Cordell said the team had two potential sponsors at Sunday's race, including one that came about after RPM's Daytona 500 performance where it placed three of its four cars in the top 10.
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing continues to search for sponsorship for #8-Aric Almirola and #1-Martin Truex Jr. Steve Lauletta, team president, says Almirola has sponsorship for about 10 races. Lauletta says Truex needs to add a sponsor for about six races. Lauletta said the team received two calls about prospective sponsors this week after the Daytona 500 where Truex won the pole, and had a couple of potential sponsors at the race. The team also is planning to announce a sponsorship agreement next week between its NASCAR teams and car owner Chip Ganassi's IndyCar program. Lauletta estimates the team worked on that deal for 14 months.
Roush Fenway Racing also is looking for future sponsorship and benefited from Matt Kenseth's victory at Daytona. While the organization has primary sponsors for all five cars, each of those sponsors are open to joining other companies on the cars, says Robin Johnson, executive vice president, business development for Roush Fenway Racing.(Roanoke Time)(2-23-2009)
- Almirola won't run full season without full funding: Aric Almirola will not run the full 2009 Sprint Cup season unless funding is secured, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing co-owner Chip Ganassi said Friday afternoon. Ganassi would not specify how many races Almirola, who has sponsorship from Guitar Hero for a select number of events, would run, but he said he definitely will run the first five. “I’d like to sit here and tell you we’re close,” Ganassi said. “But the fact of the matter is we’re not. We’re not unlike ... a situation we were in a year ago, but we’re going to give it our best shot. We need more funding to run Aric.” Almirola has 18 career starts over the last two seasons and hopes to run the entire 2009 schedule.(SceneDaily)(2-14-2009)
- #8-#42 Owner Points Swap: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, whose largely sponsorless #8 Chevy was 14th in 2008 owner points, has swapped positions with new teammate #42-Juan Montoya, who was 25th last year while driving for Chip Ganassi Racing. The assumption is that if the #8 was shut down within the first five races, Montoya would have a nine-position advantage if qualifying was rained out. In conjunction with the point swaps, Chip Ganassi now owns the #8 and Teresa Earnhardt took ownership of the #42 from Ganassi's father, Floyd.(NASCAR.com)(2-7-2009)
- Activision teams with EGR to sponsor #8 and #1: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced a partnership with Activision Publishing, Inc., the publisher of the top-selling Guitar Hero video game franchise, for a multi-race deal that will include primary sponsorship of multiple races with Aric Almirola and his #8 Chevy, and multiple races with Martin Truex Jr. and his #1 Chevy. In the 2009 Daytona 500, the first race to feature a Guitar Hero branded car, the #8 will race around the track with a paint scheme of Activision’s latest #1 music-based video game - Guitar Hero World Tour. The orange and black car will sport the familiar Guitar Hero World Tour logo and the same graphics as the game’s packaging. Subsequent races will feature the #8 or the #1 cars branded with upcoming Guitar Hero titles. Aric Almirola: Driver, #8 Chevy: “I was excited about running my first Daytona 500 to begin with, but now having the Guitar Hero brands on my car will make it even that much more fun. I can’t think of another brand that I would rather have on my car. I play the Guitar Hero games all the time and to now be representing it is very cool.”
Martin Truex Jr.: “I am really looking forward to pairing up with Activision and Guitar Hero. It is one of my favorite video game brands and I can’t wait to see it on my car.”
Steve Lauletta: President, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing: “I really love to see big brands come into the sport and it is even better when they are on one of our cars. I don’t know if there is a bigger or hotter video game brand right now than the Guitar Hero franchise. We had an opportunity to work with them last season and now look forward to a long and mutually beneficial partnership with Activision.”(Aric Almirola site)(2-5-2009)
- Target to sponsor Montoya, 3 cars for EGR UPDATE: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced they have moved their long-time partner Target to the #42 car of Juan Pablo Montoya. It is a reunion for Target and Montoya as he paired with Target and Chip Ganassi Racing back in 1999 and 2000 during his early open-wheel days when he took the American motorsports world by storm, earning a series championship and an Indianapolis 500 crown. The Colombia native will make his “re-debut” in Target red on Jan. 24 when he competes in his third consecutive Rolex 24 At Daytona in the #01 TELMEX car. He and his teammates have won the last two races and Ganassi’s teams have won the prestigious endurance race an unprecedented three consecutive years since 2006.
Target Celebrates 20th Season with Ganassi: The team’s partnership with Target continues to rank as one of the longest relationships in motorsports. Chip Ganassi created his own one-car IndyCar team in 1990 and that same year established a partnership with Target. Today, Target remains the only full-time sponsor in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) and the IndyCar Series. With the addition of Montoya and along with his IndyCar Series teammates Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti, Team Target now sports three drivers that have all won open-wheel championships and the Indianapolis 500.
Chip Ganassi, Managing Partner: “I am looking forward to reuniting Target and Montoya. They had quite a bit of success in their last stint together and to add Juan to a Team Target that already has Dixon and Franchitti in the IndyCar Series is going to be great for them. Target is a premium full-season sponsor and Montoya is a premium driver and putting them together is the right thing to do for everyone. There is little in my racing career I am more proud of than my team’s partnership with Target. We will be entering our 20th season with Target in 2009 and we could not be happier with adding Montoya to the Target mix. Juan and the whole 42 team did a lot of great things both on and off the track for Texaco/Havoline and Wrigley’s last year but aligning Juan and Target was the best move for our organization.”(Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)
AND Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates confirmed late Tuesday that it will campaign full-time Chevy for Juan Pablo Montoya, Martin Truex Jr. and Aric Almirola in 2009, with a fourth car entered for the Daytona 500. No sponsor has been announced for Almirola’s #8 car, nor has a driver been picked for the fourth car [the #41], according to EGR President Steve Lauletta, who gave an impromptu press briefing late Tuesday during the Sprint Cup Media Tour Presented by Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Target will sponsor Montoya in the #42, with former co-primary Wrigley’s taking on a role as associate sponsor, Lauletta said. Bass Pros Shops will sponsor the #1 of Truex. “We kind of get the best of both worlds putting our 20-year relationship with Target on Juan. He won the Indy 500 with them before and then Wrigley’s can still continue to do their NASCAR programming around Juan and remain with the team.”
As far as Almirola’s car, Lauletta said, “We haven’t announced sponsorship programming for that, but we will here pretty soon. And then our plan is to run a fourth car at the Daytona 500. We’re working on some opportunities with that, and again we’ll announce that at a later date.” With the fourth car, its future is contingent on sponsorship. “If we can continue to run the fourth car past Daytona, we’re going to attempt to do that,” said Lauletta. “But as of right now, the plan is Daytona.”(SPEED)(1-20-2009)
UPDATE: Lauletta made official that longtime sponsor Target is moving from the #41 car without a driver to the #42 of Juan Pablo Montoya. The 42 had sponsorship for only half the season with Wrigley's, which will remain an associate sponsor. Lauletta said the #1 car driven by Martin Truex Jr. is sponsored for most of the season by Bass Pro Shops and that the company will extend that through the season if other sponsorship being sought falls through. He said multiple sponsors for the #8 of Aric Almirola would be announced soon along with sponsorship for the fourth car for at least the Daytona 500. There are several candidates to drive the fourth car, which will continue past the first race if sponsorship can be found. All four car numbers finished in the top 35 in points last season and will be guaranteed a spot in the 500. While the organization still utilizes the old DEI shop in Mooresville, N.C., for its seven-post machine and other technology, most of the work is being done out of Ganassi's shop in Concord, N.C. Ganassi has shut down its engine operation and the team is using engines provided by Earnhardt Childress Racing.(ESPN)(1-21-2009)
- EGR cuts more jobs: And while this wasn’t officially on the Media Tour, Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing cut another 40 jobs on Monday, making it a virtual certainty that the time won’t field more than two full-time cars next year.(Tom Jensen Online), see the unofficial layoff count on my Racing Jobs/School/Expos page.(1-20-2009)
- Earnhardt-Ganassi down to two teams? When Dale Earnhardt Inc. merged with Chip Ganassi Racing last year, the plan was to run four cars in NASCAR's top series. It could be down to two. Driver #1-Martin Truex Jr. said Friday night that Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing is planning to field just three cars for next month's Daytona 500 -- with him, #42-Juan Pablo Montoya and #8-Aric Almirola behind the wheels. And Almirola said he has no guarantee to drive beyond the season-opening race because of sponsorship woes. "As far as I can tell, I believe three," Truex Jr. said at NASCAR's preseason tour at Daytona International Speedway. "I'm pretty sure that's what's going on. ... I believe that's it. That's about all I've got there. Montoya, me and Aric." Truex Jr. and Montoya are fully sponsored for 2009, but Almirola conceded his lack of sponsorship could be a problem this season. "Chip and Teresa [Earnhardt] have to do whatever makes financial sense to them, and hopefully for me that means run 36 races," Almirola said. "For them, I hope that's the case because that means that they'll have been able to afford to do that. Now, saying that, I don't know. I'm not privy to look at their financial statements every week or every month, so I don't know what they're going to be willing to do and not do without a sponsor. The moral of the story is we need a sponsor badly. We need sponsorship dollars to be able to take our #8 Earnhardt-Ganassi with Felix Sabbatta's Chevy to every single race that we can. We need sponsorship dollars."(ESPN/AP)(1-17-2009)
- Siegel close to leaving DEI UPDATE: A NASCAR team source told ESPN's Kelly Naqi that Dale Earnhardt Inc. president of global operations Max Siegel is close to leaving the team. Siegel said he's talking to DEI chief executive officer Teresa Earnhardt about his future plans with the team, which was part of a merger and has been renamed Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. When contacted, Siegel said, "This has been a great opportunity and I have always been committed to doing what's in the best interests of the sport and the company. I am currently in discussions with Teresa about how I can have the most positive impact on the future of DEI."(ESPN.com)(1-11-2009)
UPDATE: Max L. Siegel, former president of global operations for Dale Earnhardt Inc., is rejoining Baker & Daniels to lead an expansion of the law firm's sports and entertainment practice. Baker & Daniels says Siegel's experience as an industry insider makes him "ideally suited" to head the team. Siegel, a native of Indianapolis, represents a variety of entertainers and athletes. At Dale Earnhardt Inc., he was the highest ranking African-American executive in the NASCAR industry. Siegel served on the executive team that produced pop artists like Britney Spears, Usher and Justin Timberlake. Siegel also has worked with gospel stars Kirk Franklin and Donnie McClurkin, and he has represented sports athletes like Tony Gwynn and Reggie White. He was last with B&D from 1992 to 1994. Two of B&D's past partners have taken new sports jobs. Jack Swarbrick and Fred Glass recently accepted athletic director positions at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University, respectively.(Indianapolis Star)
AND Max Siegel on Wednesday announced he will step down as president of global operations at newly formed Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing to run NASCAR's diversity program. Siegel will continue to consult Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing on strategic initiatives on the business and marketing side through the new company he has started in conjunction with his former law firm, Baker and Daniels, which has offices worldwide.(ESPN.com)(1-14-2009)
- Super 8 and Labonte?.....no: readers been emailing about Super 8 Motel's being Bobby Labonte's new sponsor, based off a Coca Cola ad/photo on their site which has Labonte dressed in a Super 8 Motel driver suit. But have been told that the photo shoot was in October 2008 when Labonte was still with Petty Enterprises and that Super 8, an associate sponsor with the Petty's, have not been in contact with Labonte since. Supposedly, if Super 8 does sponsor a car, it may have a four race deal with the #43 car that is probably still in place and came over with the #43 in the GEM-Petty merger. Kyle Petty, a driver without a ride in 2009, is wearing a Victory Junction Gang Camp drivers suit, while the rest have on 2009 sponsors.(1-13-2009)
- Labonte to #8? Target to #42? UPDATE: There have been numerous Bobby Labonte sightings at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, but the latest twist places the 2000 Cup champion in the #8 Chevy where he would be reunited with his former Petty crew chief Doug Randolph. Randolph moved to DEI last year to become crew chief for Paul Menard. Labonte worked with Jeff Meendering on the #43 Petty Dodge in 2007. Meendering has since left to be the car chief for Tony Stewart. It's also been rumored that the Target sponsorship will move to the #42 Dodge and Juan Pablo Montoya.(Fox Sports)
BUT: Announced in mid-November, Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Chip Ganassi Racing agreed to merge creating a Chevy-powered, four-car stable with Almirola in the #8 car, Martin Truex Jr. in the #1 car, and Montoya in the #42 car. The fourth driver in the #41 car could be Bobby Labonte with Target's support but then again team leaders told Almirola he may slide into the car as well. "It is something they have kicked around and talked about," Almirola said. "But really and truly we want to run four cars. That is the goal because everybody knows to be competitive you have to have a multi-car team. They have said if we have to run three cars it may be a possibility but it is not our goal."(NASCAR.com)(1-11-2009)
UPDATE: Bobby Labonte in the #8, Juan Pablo Montoya in the #41, Martin Truex Jr. in the #1 and Aric Almirola in a part-time role. That is the scenario officials at Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing are discussing, sources close to the situation told ESPN.com. Almirola was slated to drive the #8 vacated by Mark Martin this season, but the company was having trouble finding sponsorship for the untested driver. Labonte ... according to sources, has drawn interest from several sponsors. Montoya drove the #42 during his first two years with Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. But with that car only half sponsored by Wrigley's and the #41 fully funded by Target, officials are looking to make the switch for what had become the top driver at Ganassi. Almirola would drive the fourth car in next month's opener at Daytona and a select number of other races unless officials find a way to fully sponsor that car for the season.(ESPN.com)(1-12-2009)
- Siegel close to leaving DEI: A NASCAR team source told ESPN's Kelly Naqi that Dale Earnhardt Inc. president of global operations Max Siegel is close to leaving the team. Siegel said he's talking to DEI chief executive officer Teresa Earnhardt about his future plans with the team, which was part of a merger and has been renamed Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. When contacted, Siegel said, "This has been a great opportunity and I have always been committed to doing what's in the best interests of the sport and the company. I am currently in discussions with Teresa about how I can have the most positive impact on the future of DEI."(ESPN.com)(1-11-2009)
- #8 Crew chief: hearing Doug Randolph will move over from DEI's [now Earnhardt Ganassi Racing/EGR] #15 team, which is now defunct, to the #8 Chevy of Aric Almirola, Tony Gibson, who was the crew chief of the #8, left to be Ryan Newman's crew chief on the #39 Stewart-Haas Chevy.(12-30-2008)
- HMS Holdings suing DEI over engines UPDATE 2:: HMS Holdings, which operates the Hendrick Motorsports engine shop, is suing Dale Earnhardt Inc. for $1.5 million for the payment of a termination fee stemming from a contract to supply Hendrick engines to Ginn Racing. Ginn Racing, which also is a defendant in the suit filed Friday in North Carolina Superior Court, merged with DEI in July 2007. As part of the merger, DEI and Ginn Racing signed a termination agreement to a contract that was originally signed by Ginn in 2006. The termination agreement required payments to HMS of $1.754 million by July 31, 2007, and $1.5 million by Nov. 15, 2008, according to the suit. The first payment was made on time. The second payment has not been made, according to the suit. The original engine contract and termination agreement are not included in the suit, so it is unclear how much Ginn was paying to use Hendrick engines. HMS is asking for the $1.5 million, 12% interest and an additional $225,000. Hendrick Motorsports spokesman Jesse Essex said the company is looking forward to a swift resolution of the lawsuit. Dale Earnhardt Inc. Vice President John Story said the company has no comment.(SceneDaily)(11-25-2008)
UPDATE - engines cost $12.8M base: If you’re looking to lease engines from Hendrick Motorsports for a NASCAR operation, you’d better be prepared to open up your wallet. A legal battle being played out in North Carolina courts is offering rare insight into the usually secretive world of the sport’s finances as the Hendrick operation seeks compensation from the Ginn Racing team that wound up as part of Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 2007. According to a contract filed as part of the case, the Hendrick engine lease agreement with Ginn Racing called for Ginn to pay a base rent of $12.8 million in 2007 and $13.7 million in 2008 to lease engines for its three Sprint Cup teams and one team in what is now the Nationwide Series. The fee covered Cup engines for 36 race events and up to nine tests or special events and Nationwide engines for 35 events, according to the contract filed as part of a lawsuit by HMS Holdings against Ginn Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. over the termination fees resulting from the Ginn-DEI merger in July 2007.(Scene Daily)(12-20-2008)
UPDATE 2: DEI claims that former NASCAR team owner Bobby Ginn is responsible for paying off any termination fees of Ginn Racing’s engine leasing contract with Hendrick Motorsports. Both DEI and Ginn have been sued by Hendrick in North Carolina Superior Court over $1.5 million in fees that Hendrick claims is owed under the termination agreement signed when DEI bought Ginn Racing in July 2007. In its response to the suit filed Dec. 22, DEI claims that DEI and Ginn have a signed agreement that DEI would not be responsible for any claims or payments under the engine lease termination agreement. DEI asks the court to rule that Ginn is responsible for any payments. Ginn has not yet responded to the suit.(SceneDaily)(12-30-2008)
- EGR will run Chevy's; all move to Ganassi's shop UPDATE: Director of Dodge Motorsports Mike Accavitti told Sirius NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway Tuesday that Chip Ganassi Racing will race Chevrolets as part of its recent merger with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Accavitti's announcement was the first public admission of an anticipated manufacturer change by the Ganassi team.
(Sirius NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway)
AND The new Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team will run Chevrolets and work out of the Chip Ganassi Racing shop, a team spokesman confirmed. The team still has not named a driver nor a crew chief for the #41 car nor has it named a crew chief for the #8 car driven by Aric Almirola. It also still needs sponsorship for Almirola and a half-season sponsorship for #42-Juan Pablo Montoya. The new organization resulted from a merger of Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Chip Ganassi Racing, which was announced in mid-November. Neither the shop location nor the engine package is a surprise. The Ganassi team has been a Dodge organization since 2001, the first full season after Chip Ganassi bought a majority interest in Sabco Racing from Felix Sabates. Dodge had a contract with Ganassi at least through 2009, but Dodge officials had indicated that they would let Ganassi out of its commitment if it was in the best interest of the team.(SceneDaily)(12-16-2008)
UPDATE: The newly merged Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Team is keeping busy early in the offseason with the relocation of two of its cars to another shop. The cars for Martin Truex Jr. and Aric Almirola's teams will be moving from the Dale Earnhardt, Inc. West shop to the Ganassi Racing shop in Concord, NC. "We've moved our equipment and we're going to run out of Ganassi's shop in Concord," Truex Jr. said. "Things are moving along. We'll just have to wait and see, but so far things have been going pretty well." The move will combine the DEI teams with Ganassi's #41 team and #42 team, of Juan Pablo Montoya, in the state-of-the-art 183,000 square-foot facility, which opened its doors in 2003. "Bono (Kevin Manion, Truex Jr's crew chief) and Juan Pablo's crew chief Brian Pattie are good friends, they've been for a long time and they're really excited to work together," Truex Jr. said. "I'm excited about that. So far everything seems to be going pretty smooth." Sponsorship still needs to be set for some of the cars, including Montoya's, which only has 19 races set with the Wrigley Chewing Gum company. As for Almirola, the search for sponsorship is still on after the U.S. Army departed the team to head to Stewart-Hass Racing in 2009. "We've got several sponsors that we've been talking to and we've been giving tours of the shop and wining and dining them," Almirola said. "We've got several people interested so that's good news, but, just nothing set in stone right yet." The Ganassi cars will make the switch from Dodges to Chevrolets, which is the same manufacturer DEI has fielded since its existence. The team will still utilize engines from Earnhardt-Childress Technologies. "We're continuing to get our motors from the Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technologies, which has been really, really awesome," Almirola said. "Our motors last year were really, really good every weekend. It's not very often you get a race car driver not complain that he wants more motor. We did not struggle for motor at all this past year."(RacingOne)(12-17-2008)
- GM unsure EGR will use Chevy's UPDATE: General Motors has not been told whether the new Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing team will field Chevrolets next season, according to Pat Suhy, GM’s NASCAR manager. Dale Earnhardt Inc., a four-car Chevrolet team, and Chip Ganassi Racing, a two-car Dodge team, announced Wednesday their plans to merge for the 2009 season. They did not announce a manufacturer, but Dodge teams seem resigned to the probability that the new four-car organization will race Chevrolets next season.
“Until they tell us what it’s going to be, I’m not confident of anything,” Suhy said Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, site of Sunday’s Ford 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup season finale. “They need to make a decision based on their own needs and what kind of support they can get and what they think is in their best interests.” Suhy would not comment on how much support DEI gets and whether it is based on a four-car team.(SceneDaily)(11-15-2008)
UPDATE: Plans are in place for Chip Ganassi Racing to switch from Dodge to Chevrolet and be a part of the engine program currently used by Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Richard Childress Racing. DEI, a Chevrolet-based organization, announced on Wednesday it is merging into a four-car team with the Dodge organization of Chip Ganassi Racing in 2009. Officials from both sides said no decision has been made on whether they would be under the Chevrolet or Dodge umbrella. Richard Childress, the owner of RCR and co-owner of the Earnhardt Childress Racing [ECR] engine program, said a meeting is scheduled for Tuesday to hopefully finalize plans to bring Ganassi Racing into the ECR program. Asked if the new Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing would have to be Chevrolet to be a part of that program, he said, "I would think so. ECR will still be around," Childress said. Childress was glad to see the merger between DEI and Ganassi, saying, "It'll make them stronger for sure. If it's put together and works like ECR, it will be great. ECR has worked beyond all of our expectations." Childress didn't rule out the possibility of employees from Ganassi's engine program joining ECR. "I know he's [Ganassi] wanting to keep his engine shop going," he said. "We haven't decided everything yet."(ESPN)(11-16-2008)
- Some more info, questions about the DEI/Ganassi merger: On Wednesday, Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced they were “launching a combination of racing operations” for 2009, collectively planning to race four cars in 2008. According to a press release issued by the two teams, Martin Truex Jr. will drive the #1 for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing next season, Aric Almirola will drive the #8, Juan Pablo Montoya the #42 and a driver to be named later will pilot the #41.
Left unsaid were almost all the important details:
• What brand of cars the teams will campaign.
• Whether Ganassi’s crew will supply engines or whether Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technologies will.
• Whether the team will be run out of DEI’s shops in Mooresville, N.C. or Ganassi’s complex in Concord, N.C.
• Who will be in charge and which executives will remain from the two teams.
• Who will sponsor the #8, which has no announced sponsors or the #41, which has sponsorship for only half the season.
• And, most importantly, whether Teresa Earnhardt or Chip Ganassi has the final say in the operation of the newly merged organization.
Apparently, most of those questions remain to be sorted out. While it is expected that the new entity will, in fact, campaign Chevrolets, sources close to the situation insist that the two parties have not yet worked out many of the critical details in the agreement. So why announce it now if it isn’t sorted out? Sources say that DEI’s deal with Bass Pro Shops requires the team to field a minimum of three teams and that if it fails to do so, the sponsor could walk. And in this brutal economy, losing yet another sponsor is the last thing DEI could afford, figuratively or literally.(Ford Racing)
OWNERS POINTS: another question not answered: what happens to the #15 team and #01 team OWNERS points, both easily in the top-35? No idea yet, they could be sold or transferred in separate deals. Could end up with Richard Childress Racing for the new #33 team that Clint Bowyer will drive for in 2009 as RCR will NOT be transferring the owners points from the #07 team. So no word yet what will happen to the #15 or #01 owners points....yet.(11-15-2008)
- More on Earnhardt-Ganassi Merger: A key player in the merger was Dodge Motorsports, which gave its blessing to team owner Chip Ganassi to pursue the partnership with a Chevy organization. "Number one, we want all of our business partners to be healthy like we want to be healthy,'' said Mike Delahanty, the senior manager of Dodge Motorsports. "Under these unprecedented times there are business solutions that no one ever thought possible. The blessing is, 'Chip, we want you to be healthy and viable long-term. We want you to have a business plan that does that. Bring us a business plan that does that and we'll talk about it, even if means letting him go.''' Sources close to the situation said the teams are expected to compete under the Chevy/General Motors banner of DEI. That would leave Dodge with three cars in Penske Racing, three in Gillett Evernham Motorsports and one or two in Petty Enterprises. Martin Truex Jr. [#1] and Aric Almirola [#8] will remain the drivers from the DEI side and Juan Pablo Montoya [#42] will be kept from Ganassi. The driver of the fourth car [# 41] will be named at a future date. AJ Allmendinger, Scott Riggs and Regan Smith are among the candidates for that seat.(ESPN.com)(11-13-2008)
- OFFICIAL - Earnhardt and Ganassi Form New Four-Car Team: Two of motorsports’ biggest names – Earnhardt and Ganassi – will launch a four-car team beginning in 2009 through the combination of the motorsports operations of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI) and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Inc. (CGRFS). NASCAR stars Martin Truex Jr. and Juan Pablo Montoya will drive the #1 and #42 respectively and future star Aric Almirola will be behind the wheel of the #8. The driver of the #41 will be named in the near future. “In this ultra-competitive era of NASCAR, it is necessary to build and sustain the strongest team possible and our combining with the people and equipment at Dale Earnhardt Inc. will help create a strong four-car program for years to come,” said Chip Ganassi. “This is a win-win for both organizations as well as all of our partners.”
“Having a partner like Chip who is heavily involved on the competition side of the business is an ideal situation for DEI,” Teresa Earnhardt said. “He has a long history of managing championship teams in the IndyCar and Rolex Grand-Am Series and I share his passion and goals of winning races and ultimately championships in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. I think this is a case where we are stronger together than we are apart.” Details of the new four-car operation will be announced at a future date.
For more information log onto www.chipganassiracing.com and www.daleearnhardtinc.com.(CGRFS PR)(11-12-2008)
- Latest DEI/Ganassi merger news UPDATE 2: The Chip Ganassi-Teresa Earnhardt merger may be back on, with Ganassi the on-track presence for what would be a two-car DEI operation, under the Chevy banner. Earnhardt needs a second team sponsorship in order to keep her Chevrolet technology deal. However, why Ganassi would really want to merge is unclear, and how Ganassi might get out of his contract with Dodge is also unclear. Regardless of what happens with the possible merger, Ganassi is expected to pair #42-Juan Pablo Montoya with his full Target sponsorship, and DEI's #8-Aric Almirola would get the 12-race Wrigley's sponsorship. That would leave #01-Regan Smith the odd-man out at DEI.(Winston-Salem Journal)(11-12-2008)
UPDATE: The long-speculated partnership between Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates now appears to be imminent. Sources close to the situation tell Sirius Speedway that while the deal cannot technically be classified as a merger, an announcement is expected within the next few days regarding a competitive and economic partnership between the two teams. The deal will allow DEI and Ganassi to field at least three cars next season with drivers Martin Truex, Jr., Juan Pablo Montoya and Aric Almirola. A fourth car is possible, dependant on sponsorship. There is no word on potential manufacturer affiliations, with DEI currently aligned with Chevrolet, and Ganassi in the Dodge camp.(SIRIUS Speedway/Motorsports Soapbox), am hearing Chevy will be the manufacturer of the 'team'.(11-12-2008)
UPDATE 2: Teresa Earnhardt and Chip Ganassi will combine their slumping race teams next season, an effort to stabilize their organizations in a tough economic time. The combined team will be called Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and will field cars for Martin Truex, Aric Almirola, Juan Pablo Montoya and a driver yet to be named, two people familiar with the decision told the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal has yet to be announced. Both organizations have struggled to secure sponsorship this season, forcing the teams to pool resources. Truex and Almirola will come from Dale Earnhardt Incorporated; only Truex's car has full sponsorship for next season. Montoya has half a season of sponsorship, and Ganassi's flagship #41 has full sponsorship but no driver. DEI fields Chevrolets, and Ganassi has a Dodge contract. Details of a manufacturer switch still are being worked out as the team is expected to use General Motors.(Associated Press)(11-12-2008)
- Martin in the #84 at Homestead UPDATE 2 NO, but Vickers/Speed swap?: Monday [11-10-2008] on “SIRIUS Speedway” on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, host Dave Moody is reporting that Mark Martin will drive the #84 Red Bull Toyota this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, replacing Scott Speed. Host, Dave Moody: “Since taking over for the released AJ Allmendinger four races ago, Speed has recorded an average finish of 34.2, including a 40th yesterday in Phoenix. The team has fallen out of the Top-35 in owners’ points now. They now trail the Michael Waltrip Motorsports #47 team by 16 points with one race to go in the battle for that all important 35th position in the owner standings. An official announcement is expected from the team later this afternoon. Mark Martin, of course, enjoys a long relationship with Red Bull Racing general manager Jay Frye, for whom he drove at the former MB3 and Ginn Racing teams. He ran his final scheduled event for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. yesterday in Phoenix. He, of course, will move to Hendrick Motorsports full time in 2009. His arrangement with Red Bull Racing is, we are told, for one race only and will have no impact on the team's long term plans for Scott Speed.(SIRIUS XM Radio PR)(11-10-2008)
UPDATE: been told that Martin will NOT run the #84 and Scott Speed will drive the #84 [#82 in 2009] at Homestead this weekend. The entry list from NASCAR has Team Red Bull having a third car entered, the #82, but it was withdrawn.(11-11-2008)
UPDATE 2: Martin's deal to drive the #84 Red Bull Toyota this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway has apparently fallen through. Sources close to the team say the deal was signed, sealed and all but delivered, only to have high level executives at General Motors nix it at the last minute. Martin is set to drive a Hendrick Motorsports Chevy full-time next season, and when GM brass got wind of Red Bull's plans, a series of phone calls was made to scuttle the deal just minutes before a press release was to be issued announcing it. The end result is reportedly an angry Martin, a disappointed Red Bull Racing Team, and a "Plan B" that could result in Scott Speed and Brian Vickers trading cars this weekend in Miami.(SIRIUS Speedway)
AND In an effort to secure a spot among the top 35 in the owner's standings, Team Red Bull is playing musical chairs this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. #83-Brian Vickers will swap rides with teammate #84-Scott Speed for the season finale. As a result, Vickers will have to qualify on time for Sunday's Ford 400 while Speed will be locked into the field no matter where he qualifies. Currently, the #84 is 17 points behind 35th place in the standings. Being inside that threshold at the end of the season is valuable, as it guarantees a starting spot for the first five races of 2009, including the prestigious Daytona 500.(FoxSports)(11-11-2008)
- Latest Ganassi merger rumor? Petty? UPDATE4 negotiations fell thru?:Trying to pin down the state of Petty Enterprises, under its new Boston Ventures' management, and the future of the Chip Ganassi operation has been tough enough the last few weeks, but now the speculation of a GM-Chrysler corporate merger has thrown things into a real tizzy. Insiders at both the Petty and Ganassi Dodge camps say there is speculation that the two struggling teams may somehow merge, and that that speculation is fueled by the sense that fellow Dodge owner George Gillett, who has majority interest in Gillett-Evernham-Motorsports, is "99 percent" certain to jump to Toyota. Ray Evernham was Dodge's mainstay in NASCAR racing, making such a move highly unusual. Dodge officials a few weeks ago denied such a change might be coming. One major complication for Dodge teams like Petty's and Ganassi's is that Gillett-Evernham has been a major Dodge engine operation. If Gillett moves to Toyota, then Dodge loses a very big player.(Winston-Salem Journal)(10-12-2008)
UPDATE: hearing that a Ganassi-Petty Enterprises merger is still possible with Target being the sponsor for Bobby Labonte in the #43. With #42-Juan Pablo Montoya and #44-Chad McCumbee as teammates and a possible 4th team with Kyle Petty running part time in the #45.(10-21-2008)
UPDTE 2 - DEI?: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates is negotiating with several organizations, including Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Petty Enterprises. "We're talking to a lot of different people," Sabates said on Tuesday. "We're keeping our options open. Obviously, the way things are going today with sponsors, unless you have the sponsors you can't run. We only have a sponsor for the 41 car [Target] and the 42 [Wrigley's Big Red/Juicy Fruit] for half a year. We're looking at all possibilities." DEI and Petty Enterprises are in similar situations. DEI has only the #1 car of Martin Truex Jr. fully sponsored for next season, with partial sponsors in line for the #8 and none for its other two cars. Petty Enterprises is looking for sponsors for the #43 and 44 that is expected to replace the #45. So how would a merger with DEI help Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates? "They have a sponsor for one and a half cars and we have a sponsor for one and a half cars, that makes three cars, doesn't it?" Sabates said. "The same thing with Petty. They've got one car. There are other people out there, too." The biggest stumbling block for DEI to merge with Ganassi or Petty may be manufacturer permission. DEI is under contract with General Motors to field Chevys and the other two are under contract with Dodge/Chrysler. The proposed merger between GM and Chrysler could help that situation, but there remain other obstacles on both sides. "Everything is up in the air," Sabates said. "We're just talking in theory. We don't know what is going to happen. We don't have anything concrete with anybody. And I'm not saying we will do anything."(ESPN.com)(11-4-2008)
UPDATE 3: An alliance is in the works that would combine the #s 1 and 8 Chevys at DEI with the #s 41 and 42 of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates next season. The newly combined outfit would boast a lineup consisting of Martin Truex Jr., with Bass Pro Shops sponsorship, Juan Pablo Montoya, with Wrigleys sponsorship, and Aric Almirola. Ganassi still has a deal in place with sponsor Target, but it is unknown right now whether that will be for Almirola or for a yet-to-be-determined fourth driver. Ganassi could offer the presence of an at-track, hands-on owner, an important element that's been missing at DEI since the death of its founder Dale Earnhardt. Ganassi won four titles in Champ Car and two titles as an owner in the IRL IndyCar Series, including this season. Ganassi's current contract with Dodge extends through 2010. Given the economic climate and uncertainty of the Dodge program beyond 2009, the move would align Ganassi with Chevrolet for next year and beyond. Max Siegel, president of global operations declined comment on the report.(FoxSports)(11-5-2008)
UPDATE4: hearing that DEI and Ganassi are not going to merge after meeting Wednesday and there was no deal and negotiations are off.(11-7-2008)
- Camo scheme for Martin at Texas: Mark Martin will run a special camouflage paint scheme on the #8 U.S. Army DEI Chevy in the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway to promotes effort to deliver more than one million holiday greetings to U.S. Military worldwide. In keeping with the VAULT motto, “Get It Done. And Then Some.,” Coca-Cola North America is implementing the largest marketing campaign for the brand since its 2006 launch to ensure the program’s success. The VAULT “Honoring the Uniform: Calling for Support” initiative features an exclusive opportunity for people across the country to send hand-written postcards to troops worldwide and raise up to $100,000 for the USO. People are encouraged to write messages of support on pre-addressed postcards, which can be found on special camouflage-themed VAULT 12-packs, at VAULT displays in participating retail stores or online at DrinkVault.com and MyCokeRewards.com, while supplies last. The postcards can be dropped in the mail with a first-class stamp and will arrive at a USO collection center for security screening before being distributed to U.S. troops during the holiday season.(Markmartin.com)(10-31-2008)
UPDATE: Mark Martin and Capt Tony D. Tinderholt along with U.S. soldiers Sgt Alex DeLuna, Staff Sgt James Peacock and Staff Sgt Shawn Rule, show off a special camouflage paint scheme on the #8 U.S. Army Chevrolet during racing action at Texas Motor Speedway leading up to the Sprint Cup Series Dickies 500 (Nov. 2). Martin is joining forces with Coca-Cola’s VAULT brand and the USO to generate support for U.S. troops and send more than one million holiday greetings to U.S. military worldwide. The initiative features an exclusive opportunity for people across the country to write messages of support on pre-addressed postcards, which can be found on special camouflage-themed VAULT 12-packs, at VAULT displays in participating retail stores or online at DrinkVault.com and MyCokeRewards.com, while supplies last. The postcards can be dropped in the mail with a first-class stamp and will be distributed to U.S. troops during the holiday season.(PR), see an image of the car on my #8 Team News Links.(11-1-2008)
- Martin to the #5...in 2008? UPDATE 2: hearing that Mark Martin may get started on his ride a few races early and running the #5 Carquest/Kelloggs Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports in the final four races [Atlanta , Texas, Phoenix, Homestead] of the 2008 Cup season. Casey Mears currently drives the car. Martin is slated to drive the #8 US Army Chevy for DEI in 3 of the 4 final 2008 races, with Aric Almirola in at Phoenix.(8-6-2008)
UPDATE: during SPEED's coverage of the first Saturday practice, Larry McReynolds said he had a nugget....Mark Martin will run the final four races of the 2008 Sprint Cup season, including the final race at Homestead, but not in the #8 DEI Chevy, but in a Hendrick Chevy, so he could be in the #5 Chevy, meaning we may see Casey Mears in a 4th RCR car [#33?] at Homestead.(10-25-2008)
UPDATE 2: Hendrick Motorsports is considering a plan that would put Mark Martin in the #5 car for the final race of this season at Homestead Speedway, sources told ESPN.com. Martin will drive the #5 car for Hendrick Motorsports in the 2009 season.
A contingency to the plan is getting Casey Mears, the current driver of the #5, into the fourth car at Richard Childress Racing that he will drive next season. But in order to do that Mears likely would have to drive the #33, not the #07 that he is slated to drive because Clint Bowyer is driving that car in the Chase. Richard Childress Racing is willing to put Mears in the #33 car unsponsored as it wants to get him in the race. Martin will be free of his duties in the #8 at Dale Earnhardt Enterprises after the next two races at Texas and Phoenix. He will end his part-time schedule that he has been on for a couple of years to run a full-time schedule for Hendrick Motorsports.
Officials from Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing were not immediately available for comment.(ESPN)(10-27-2008)
UPDATE 3: Although a switch for the Sprint Cup finale at Homestead-Miami was discussed, Casey Mears will remain in the #5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy while Mark Martin will sit on the sideline. There were discussions about Mears driving for RCR with Martin going into the Hendrick car for the finale so they could get a head start on next season, Mears and Martin said last Sunday. But Hendrick Motorsports has opted to just keep Mears in the car, Hendrick spokesman Jesse Essex said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway.(Scene Daily)(10-31-2008)
- DEI and Petty merger? UPDATE 2: Talks about a possible merger between Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Petty Enterprises are under way, according to sources familiar with the situation, and Wells Fargo's sponsorship money could be key to making something happen. However, the economic chaos that is wracking the country is also playing havoc with so many suddenly struggling NASCAR teams that it's unclear how any of the various scenarios might actually play out. And just what positives might even come out of a DEI-Petty merger aren't that clear, either. Richard Petty sold a "significant" stake this summer in Petty Enterprises, the family racing operation in business since 1949, to Boston Ventures, a private equity firm. Precisely how that joint NASCAR venture might fit into any DEI-Petty merger is unclear, considering the financial problems of many Wall Street investment firms. Petty Enterprises is looking for a 2009 sponsor for Bobby Labonte, who drives the legendary #43 car. #45-Kyle Petty, the other Petty driver, has been at odds apparently with some of the team's executives, and he appears to have the option to take the Wells Fargo sponsorship with him to another team. If Kyle Petty were to leave, that would, for the moment, leave Petty Enterprises with no major sponsors.(Winston Salem Journal)(10-17-2008)
UPDATE: Robbie Loomis said Petty Enterprises has been approached by at least three organizations about a possible alliance heading into next season. The vice president of racing operations, speaking Friday at Martinsville Speedway, would not identify them, but published reports say Dale Earnhardt Inc. might be on that list. DEI officials declined to comment. Loomis said the Pettys' deal with Dodge extends three years past this one. DEI signed an extension with General Motors/Chevrolet before this season. Loomis said Petty Enterprises is closer to naming a sponsor for Labonte, and he appears close to set on Chad McCumbee to drive the second car, which will be the #44. He said the key in all of this is continued growth of the Petty brand, which a merger with DEI may or may not allow.(ESPN.com)
AND Officials from Petty Enterprises do not deny that they have held preliminary discussions about a possible future partnership of some sort with Dale Earnhardt Inc., but they strongly deny that anything is close to happening or even likely to happen. In fact, Robbie Loomis said that DEI is not the only group with which Petty Enterprises is discussing its future. Nor is it alone in the Sprint Cup Series garage area, where Loomis insisted all teams are scrambling to find stronger footing in difficult economic times. "The bottom line for us is that we're committed to Dodge," Loomis said. "We like Dodge as our manufacturer; Richard Petty especially. We have three more years with them as far as solid commitments. We feel good about where we're at with them."(NASCAR.com)(10-18-2008)
UPDATE 2: Petty Enterprises appears on track to merge – somehow – with Dale Earnhardt Inc., which would turn the Petty Dodges into Chevrolets….apparently. Or maybe it’s just Kyle Petty ‘merging.’ Richard Petty Sunday didn’t have much to say about the DEI report; he didn’t deny the talks, but he insisted he didn’t have to panic about things: “We did our panicking last year. That’s why we did the deal with Boston Ventures. We’re ahead of the curve.” However there appears to be considerable internal disagreement between the father and son about the next business steps to take, though #43-Bobby Labonte still has no sponsor for 2009, and Kyle Petty himself apparently is looking to leave Petty Enterprises at the end of the year and take the company’s only full sponsor, Wells Fargo, with him.(Winston Salem Journal)(10-20-2008)
- DEI working on the future: Max Siegel, Bobby Hutchens and John Story are trying to hold Dale Earnhardt Inc. together, rebuild it and find solid sponsorships for 2009 in a dismal economic climate. Siegel heard the rumors that swirled through the Lowe's Motor Speedway garage last weekend, including the one that DEI was on the verge of laying off 80 employees after losing Paul Menard and the John Menard and U.S. Army sponsorships. But Siegel says he's doing his best to put together the sponsorship deals to keep DEI running smoothly. "Since I've been with DEI, we've had to deal with perception issues," said Siegel, a two-year veteran with the operation. "But we've got great people and great facilities. Right now, today, it is an interesting dynamic. If you look at the company and our infrastructure and the people who have been there a long time, and look at how our cars have been running, we have made some impressive gains. Last year people were killing us about our engines, so we've made a concerted effort to focus on our joint engine venture (with fellow owner Richard Childress). And there has definitely been improvement."
"We're running four team cars ‘til the end of the year (with #1-Martin Truex Jr., #01-Regan Smith, #8-Aric Almirola and #15-Menard). And our intent is to run four cars again next year … but we are going to be fiscally responsible So right now any of the deals that are out there, we're trying to put those together. And we're wide-open as to how we can sustain a healthy race program. We have some very resilient people … but it's the end of the year, and everyone is on pins and needles, trying to figure out what the future may bring."
Cutting 80 people? Siegel says he heard the rumors. "That's not our intent, but I was hearing it, too," he said. "Over the last two years, we've done some things and made some investments to strengthen our racing program. Sure, people tend to speculate when you see a sponsor leave." And rivals are not above creating such speculation in order to pluck off key employees. "My heart goes out to all 400 of our employees who work so hard every week," Siegel said. "And I am doing the best I can to sustain a level of confidence in our company and reassure everyone that we are doing everything we can to keep it healthy. And we have no imminent plans to lay off any people or shut down any of our race teams."(Winston Salem Journal)(10-15-2008)
- Army to Newman? UPDATE: sources said Army is close to finalizing a deal to be a partial co-sponsor of Ryan Newman's [#39 Chevy] car at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009.(ESPN.com)(9-12-2008)
UPDATE: Another piece of the Stewart-Haas Racing puzzle will be fit into place Thursday when the race team will unveil the U.S. Army as primary sponsor of Ryan Newman's #39 Chevy for next season, sources have confirmed to NASCAR.com. The announcement is scheduled to be made at 1:30pm/et Thursday at Lowe's Motor Speedway, site of this weekend's Sprint Cup event. The Stewart-Haas organization now has both its Chevrolets sponsored for next season with Office Depot and Old Spice set to back the car of team co-owner [#14] Tony Stewart.(NASCAR.com)(10-8-2008)
- Almirola about 2009 sponsorship: ARIC ALMIROLA, #8 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS, ON SPONSORSHIPS FOR ‘09? "I have told a lot of people this weekend, I don't get paid to speculate, I get paid to drive race cars. I am just going out there doing the best job I can every weekend. I am not giving any extra effort now, because if I were, that would be shame on me, because I wasn't doing my job earlier in the season. I am doing everything I was doing earlier in the season, I am doing the same things. It is business as usual. It is up to Max (Siegel) and John (Story) to take care of all that stuff. A part of me worries about it, but a part of me, I can't worry about it, that isn't my job."(GM Racing PR)(10-7-2008)
- Army to Newman? UPDATE: sources said Army is close to finalizing a deal to be a partial co-sponsor of Ryan Newman's [#39 Chevy] car at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009.(ESPN.com)(9-12-2008)
UPDATE: Sources close to the situation confirmed today that the U.S. Army would not be renewing their sponsorship with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. after the 2008 season. Representatives from the U.S. Army let Dale Earnhardt, Inc. know this afternoon that they would not be returning to the #8 for 2009. Beginning in 2009 the U.S. Army will be the primary sponsor of Ryan Newman in the newly formed Stewart-HAAS Racing venture led by two-time Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart. The formal announcement will be delivered at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Friday October 10th when Stewart-HAAS Racing and the U.S. Army unveil Newman’s new #39 racecar. Sources also said that representatives from the U.S. Army have asked Dale Earnhardt, Inc. for permission to make the announcement, and that the U.S. Army did not have an interest in negotiating with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. about future opportunities.(Captain Thunder Racing)(9-30-2008)
- Almirola still looking for 2009 sponsor: Aric Almirola is encouraged by how the hunt for a 2009 sponsor on the #8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevy is going. Almirola, who is sharing the ride with Mark Martin this season, will become the solo driver of the car next season when Martin leaves for Hendrick Motorsports. But the U.S. Army announced earlier this season that it wouldn’t return as a primary sponsor, making Almirola’s group one in a sea of teams searching for sponsorship for next season. “We’ve got quite a few things in the works actually,” the 24-year-old Almirola said before Wednesday’s Sprint Cup test at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.(SceneDaily.com)(9-25-2008)
- Almirola wins East race at Dover: There was a set of bookends in Friday’s Camping World Series East Sunoco 150. For Aric Almirola, it was the end of a whirlwind week. For Matt Kobyluck, it was the arrival at the top of a mountain he’d been climbing for a decade. Almirola won the race, driving home the #30 car that he took over from Jeffrey Earnhardt earlier this week. It was a drive-by win for Almirola in his first – and maybe only – Camping World series race. The driver will take over the #8 ride in the Sprint Cup series full-time next year. Kobyluck drove home behind an attention-grabbing one-two battle between Almirola and second-place finisher Marc Davis. Almirola said he found out on Wednesday that he’d be driving in the race, and was asked what he knew about the Camping World Series before race day. “Nothing,” Almirola replied. “I’ve watched, because I have a vested interest in it, because of working at DEI and them having three Camping World cars. It’s an awesome series. These guys race really, really hard. As far as who was who and who I could race and couldn’t race, and who I had to look out for, I didn’t know anything. I went into this completely blind.” Thirteen cars finished the day on the lead lap. Steve Park was fourth, followed by Bobby Hamilton, Jr. in fifth. Matt Hirschman, Ricky Carmichael, Jody Lavender, Austin Dillon and Bryon Chew rounded out the top 10.(DIS site)(9-20-2008)
- Special scheme at Texas for Martin: The VAULT “Honoring the Uniform: Calling for Support” program will be highlighted as part of a special camouflage paint scheme on the #8 U.S. Army Chevy driven by Mark Martin during the Sprint Cup Series Dickies 500 (Nov. 2) at Texas Motor Speedway. VAULT is the title sponsor for the pre-race show and is presenting a live concert by REO Speedwagon. People are encouraged to write messages of support on pre-addressed postcards, which can be found on special camouflage-themed VAULT 12-packs, at VAULT displays in participating retail stores or online at DrinkVault.com and MyCokeRewards.com, while supplies last. The postcards can be dropped in the mail with a first-class stamp and will arrive at a USO collection center for security screening before being distributed to U.S. troops during the holiday season. The VAULT postcard program replicates the popular service previously operated by the U.S. Department of Defense, which allowed the American public to send mail addressed to “any service member” for more than 17 years before being discontinued in 2003 due to security concerns. In addition to sending postcards, people can help raise up to $100,000 for the USO by visiting MyCokeRewards.com through the end of the year and turning the points they earn by drinking Coca-Cola products into a cash donation. My Coke Rewards points found under caps and on packaging of more than 60 products from Coca-Cola North America can be donated to help support the continuing efforts of the USO to provide a home away from home to U.S. troops wherever they serve.(BusinessWire)(9-16-2008)
- Kentucky testing Tues-Wed: Three Sprint Cup teams are scheduled to test at the Kentucky Speedway on Tuesday [9/9]: #8-Aric Almirola for DEI and an un-named driver for the R&D Test team of Haas CNC Racing; and on Wednesday [9/10]: the R&D Test team of the #21Wood Brothers Racing team with no driver listed. Fans can watch from the Turn 3 Fan Center at no charge. Schedule subject to change daily. Test times vary.(Kentucky Speedway site)(9-8-2008)
- Tennessee War Hero to be Guest of Army NASCAR Team in Bristol:Staff Sgt. Kevin L. Manning, a decorated war hero from the Johnson City U.S. Army Recruiting Station, will be a guest of the Army NASCAR team at Saturday night's Sharpie 500 Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Manning, a resident of Erwin, Tenn., is a Purple Heart recipient for wounds received in combat while serving in Iraq. Manning and his unit fought off enemy insurgents who ambushed a U.S. Army convoy on Oct. 2, 2004. During the fighting, a bullet struck Manning's shoulder. He was evacuated by a Black Hawk helicopter to a combat support hospital in Iraq. Following a 30 day convalescent leave in Germany, Manning volunteered to return to his unit in Iraq. He completed his deployment in February 2005."It will be an honor to meet Staff Sgt. Manning," said Aric Almirola, who will drive the #8 U.S. Army Chevrolet at Bristol. "He embodies the spirit and
courage of all our Soldiers, who inspire us every week at the track."(DEI PR)(8-21-2008)
- DEI names Hutchens VP of Competition: Dale Earnhardt Inc. has named NASCAR veteran Bobby Hutchens vice president of competition. Hutchens, who previously served as general manager of Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines after a long tenure with Richard Childress Racing, will oversee all competition efforts at Dale Earnhardt Inc., including its four Sprint Cup teams. Hutchens' new position came as the result of a joint decision between DEI and RCR. The championship-winning NASCAR racing organizations have a long history of successful collaboration including, among others, ECR Engines and the RAD aerodynamics program that also included Andy Petree Racing. Hutchens, who graduated from North Carolina State University with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1982, is highly regarded in Sprint Cup racing for his research, development and computer testing accomplishments. Hutchens has managed and developed all facets of RCR's R&D program, while overseeing RCR's engineering, engines, engine R&D, manufacturing, chassis R&D and aerodynamics programs. He was named general manager of ECR Engines when the program was put together in May 2007.(DEI PR)(8-12-2008)
- Steak-Umm on board with Martin at Pocono: Mark Martin will run a special Steak-Umm's paint scheme this weekend at Pocono on the #8 DEI Chevy. The scheme is the same as Martin ran earlier this year at the Pocono race in June. Martin has never won at Pocono, but he has posted second-place finishes there six different times and has finished third there on four more occasions.(DEI PR), see images of the scheme on my #8 Team Schemes page.(7-31-2008)
- Two Soldiers in the #8 pit at Indy: Two decorated soldiers from the Indianapolis Recruiting Battalion -- Sgt. 1st Class John Adams and Sgt. 1st Class Robert Groff - will be guests of Mark Martin and the #8 U.S. Army team for Sunday's running of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Adams earned the Bronze Star with Valor for his actions in Iraq on Oct. 13, 2004, when he captured an Iraqi insurgent as he was completing an improvised explosive device along the roadside of a major supply route. Adams' actions prevented the device from being detonated, saving countless lives and avoiding a disruption along a road that supplied American troops with fuel and provisions.
Groff earned the Bronze Star with Valor for his actions in Iraq on April 9, 2004, when his fuel convoy was attacked by insurgents. Groff repeatedly braved the crossfire and exploding IEDs to lead wounded civilian drivers and other soldiers to the safety of his Humvee until 11 people filled the vehicle. He stayed with the vehicle and its occupants and defended it for more than 20 minutes until help arrived to transfer them to safety. As part of the program, each soldier will have an action figure and a page on the America's Army Web site (www.americasarmy.com), which will feature his biography, photos and a video that recounts his story of heroism. The action figure, which is roughly 4 inches long, also comes with a trading card with an abbreviated version of their story.(IMS Site)(7-27-2008)
- Earnhardt Jr. not interested in buying DEI: Dale Earnhardt Jr. wanted at least 51 percent of Dale Earnhardt Inc. last season before he opted for a fresh start at Hendrick Motorsports. If the company were up for sale now? "I don't mean this in a bad way, but I would not have any interest in purchasing it," Earnhardt said following Thursday's first practice at Chicagoland Speedway. "I would not have any interest in purchasing any race team, just to have the ownership." The subject was broached because of an Internet report earlier in the week that claimed DEI owner Teresa Earnhardt had commissioned the investment banking firm Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. to locate a buyer or financial partner. DEI president Max Siegel refuted the report, saying the company is not for sale.(ESPN.com)(7-11-2008)
- Teresa Earnhardt Looking to sell DEI? UPDATE 2 Reports Refuted: Sirius NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway is reporting today that Teresa Earnhardt has enlisted the services of Bear, Stearns and Company [actally there is no more Bear Stearns as JP Morgan aquired them] to find a buyer -- or at least a major financial investor -- for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Bear Stearns is an investment bank, securities trading and brokerage firm based in New York City, and has been charged with finding a buyer for the entire operation. Barring that, Earnhardt is said to be interested in selling at least a minority interest in the team. DEI President of Global Operations Max Siegel declined to comment on the story when contacted earlier today.(Sirius NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway)(7-7-2008)
UPDATE: Max Siegel, President of Global Operations at DEI is currently in negotiations with major investors to buy Teresa Earnhardt out of DEI, a source close to the negotiations said Monday. It appears now that Teresa is finally willing to sell, and Siegel is working diligently with a number of potential investors to take the company over. Sources said Siegel would not just be buying a portion of DEI or a controlling interest, rather, he would be buying the entire company. Sources said, Teresa has agreed to walk away from the company entirely for the right price. That price is supposedly somewhere between $115-$130 million dollars. With one exception...Teresa would retain the rights to all "Dale Earnhardt' and 'Intimidator' rights and merchandise sales. Siegel would only be buying the DEI race teams, and real estate including all race shops and the DEI headquarters in Mooresville, NC. Sources said Siegel is very serious about the purchase and appears to have investors salivating over the opportunity to own the legendary team. In addition, Teresa has grown more frustrated with NASCAR nation following her fall-out with the sports most popular driver, and wants nothing more than to be out of the public eye for good.(Captain Thunder Racing)(7-8-2008)
UPDATE 2 reports refuted: Dale Earnhardt, Inc. is not for sale -- right now. DEI president Max Siegel on Tuesday refuted an Internet report that company owner Teresa Earnhardt had commissioned investment banking firm Bear, Stearns & Co., Inc. to locate a buyer or financial investment partner. "We have not engaged Bear, Stearns or Goldman Sachs or anyone else," Siegel said. "We are contacted all the time by outside firms about getting involved in the sport. We are not for sale right now. Nothing is imminent. Are we constantly weighing that as an option? Does that make sense? Quite frankly, we don't know," Siegel said. "Every team is looking for a way to bring in appropriate resources. Every single one. We haven't engaged anybody. People obviously approach us -- they're approaching everybody. We're looking to be around for a long time in future. We're feeling pretty damn good about where we're going, competition-wise." Siegel was forced to approach his driving corps with assurance that the team is currently not for sale. "I have assured them it's not true," Siegel said.(ESPN.com)(7-8-2008)
- Hard Rock to sponsor a DEI car? DEI is also working diligently to lock up sponsors for next season. Rumors have been swirling that they may lose their U.S. Army sponsorship on Martin’s #8 car, a car that will be driven by rookie Aric Almirola next year, to Red Bull and Scott Speed. If that happens, DEI hopes to be ready with another sponsor to step in. That sponsor may be the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s. Sources said early Sunday that Max Siegel, President of Global Operations for DEI, had met throughout the weekend in Daytona Beach, FL with representatives from the Hard Rock about possible sponsorship opportunities with DEI. They could replace the U.S. Army should they bail and head to Red Bull, or they could end up on the #01 of Regan Smith.(Captain Thunder Racing)(7-8-2008)
- Almirola to run #8 fulltime for DEI in 2009 UPDATE 2: An official announcement that Aric Almirola will drive the #8 car at Dale Earnhardt Inc. full time next season will be made on Tuesday, sources close to the situation said. The decision to put Almirola into the U.S. Army-sponsored car full time had nothing to do with Martin's decision to return to a full-time Sprint Cup schedule and make one last run at a championship, sources said. It had more to do with advancing Almirola's talents and taking advantage of the appeal he has shown with sponsors looking for a younger driver. One of those is U.S. Army, whose target audience fits the 24-year-old Almirola much more than the 49-year-old Martin.(ESPN.com)(7-1-2008)
UPDATE: After spending two seasons sharing a car with veteran Mark Martin, 24-year-old Aric Almirola will take over the #8 Sprint Cup Series Chevy full time in 2009.
"This is an incredibly exciting opportunity," said Almirola. "When you get into racing, you always dream of competing at the highest level and I've had the chance to do that on a limited basis for the past two seasons. Now I will have the opportunity to race the car full time and I could not be more excited about driving the #8 car each week for Dale Earnhardt Inc. This is a really great race team to work with. (Crew Chief) Tony Gibson and these guys have put me in really good race cars this season and they've never treated me like a rookie. They are committed to being competitive every week and I'm really looking forward to working with them on a weekly basis next season." Martin, who has driven the #8 in 12 events this season, will compete in 12 more races this year before moving to another team for the 2009 campaign. Almirola will compete in the balance of the season's seven races. In addition to his time in the Sprint Cup Series, Almirola has made 27 starts in the Nationwide Series, earning four poles and one win at Milwaukee in 2007.(DEI PR), there is no mention of a sponsor of the US Army in the press release.(7-1-2008)
- UPDATE 2: What DEI didn’t announce was a sponsor for Almirola, but DEI President Max Siegel indicated that the team has solidified those plans. Currently, the U.S. Army sponsors that car but it has not announced whether it would remain with DEI next year as it goes through its annual bidding process. “We’re fine,” Siegel said. “We’ll make the announcements of who it is over time.” Siegel said the team is still looking for sponsorship for the #01 car of Smith to be able to keep that car on the track and he said there was nothing new to report on Truex’s status for next year. Truex faces the prospect of losing 100 or 150 points as penalty for his team presenting a car that didn’t meet NASCAR’s roof templates.(SceneDaily)(7-6-2008)
- First Daytona pole for DEI: #15-Paul Menard's Pole in the qualifying session for the Coke Zero 400 is the first by any Dale Earnhardt Inc. driver at Daytona International Speedway. In addition, the pole is the first by a DEI driver in the Sprint Cup Series at
either of the two NASCAR restrictor plate tracks (Daytona or Talladega Superspeedway). Menard will start alongside Dale Earnhardt Inc. teammate Mark Martin in the race. The second-place qualifying effort is Martin's best at Daytona since 1990 and his best at a restrictor plate track since qualifying second at Talladega in 1991.(DEI PR)(7-5-2008)
- Hendrick and Mears to part ways after 2008 season UPDATE: Hendrick Motorsports and driver Casey Mears will part ways following the 2008 Sprint Cup Series season. "We've put a ton of emphasis on the #5 program," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "It's been a total team effort, and Casey has worked as hard as anyone to help us improve. We've tested more than we ever have, but the results just haven't come. None of us, Casey included, have been satisfied with the situation this season. But he's confident there are other options out there for him in 2009, and we feel like Hendrick Motorsports will have some opportunities, too." Mears will finish the 2008 Sprint Cup campaign in Hendrick's #5 Chevrolets. "I know the effort has been there, but we haven't had the finishes to show for it," Mears said. "I've never tested this much or put more energy into racing. But for whatever reason, we just haven't been able to make it click. It's certainly not for lack of dedication on anyone's part. I'll talk to people about opportunities and get my 2009 plans wrapped up soon, but I'm also focused on the next 20 races and finishing 2008 on a positive note. We ran well the second half last year, and I know we can do it again. I want to close this season the right way." Hendrick Motorsports will announce its 2009 plans at a later date.(Hendrick Motorsports PR), rumor has Mark Martin taking this ride in 2009, either as full-time or part-time.(6-27-2008)
UPDATE: Hendrick Motorsports will hold a news conference at the press conference room in the Daytona International Speedway infield media center in Daytona Beach, FL on Friday, July 4 at 12:30pm/et to announce future plans for its #5 Chevrolet team. Owner Rick Hendrick will be in attendance.(Hendrick Motorsports)(7-3-2008)
- Martin to Leave DEI, Almirola Full Time Next Season: UPDATE 3: Martin Replacing Mears? Mark Martin will have a new racing home in 2009, ESPN.com has learned. Martin was unavailable for comment Sunday. Officials for Martin's current team, Dale Earnhardt Inc., would neither confirm nor deny the speculation, but did confirm that young Aric Almirola would run a full-time schedule in 2009. "Aric is ready for a full-time ride," said John Story, DEI vice president of motorsports operations. Almirola has shared the #8 U.S. Army Chevy with Martin for the past two seasons. "Were talking to Mark about what his objectives for the future are, and trying to marry that with our own, with Aric Almirola, to make sure Aric has an opportunity to run full time next year. We're going through the process right now of trying to make sure that we get something for Aric that provides him a 36-race schedule, and at the same time that Mark is in a good situation."(ESPN.com)(6-22-2008)
UPDATE: Casey Mears and Mark Martin look to be on the move, and their futures might be linked. Mears' future with Hendrick Motorsports appears in jeopardy, ESPN.com has learned. Although Mears has one year left on his contract, team owner Rick Hendrick would not commit to the driver of the #5 car beyond this season. "I'm committed to him right now," Hendrick said on Sunday at Infineon Raceway. "I'm committed to him making that car run better right now." Earlier on Sunday, sources told ESPN.com that Martin would leave Dale Earnhardt Inc. Later, ESPN.com learned that he would replace Mears, making one last full-time run at a championship.(ESPN.com)(6-22-2008)
UPDATE 2: The speculation comes as rumors swirl about Mark Martin's future with Dale Earnhardt Inc. He's previously been mentioned as a candidate to split the Cup schedule with Scott Speed at Red Bull Racing, but there could also be a similar role for him in the #5 car for Hendrick. One scenario could have Martin splitting the seat time with Brad Keselowski, who currently drives a Nationwide Series car for JR Motorsports. Hendrick is partners with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in that venture, and Martin occasionally drives a car for them in that series. Martin is currently splitting a ride with Aric Almirola for DEI, but the team wants Almirola in a full-time ride in 2009. "Aric is ready for a full-time ride," said DEI vice president John Story. "We have to get him in a car full time somehow, someway."(Associated Press)(6-23-2008)
UPDATE 3: SPEED's Wendy Venturini reported that sources say Mark Martin could announce his 2009 plans next week at Daytona.(SPEED)(6-29-2008)
- Army looking for new team in 2009? UPDATE 3: The U.S. Army is examining it options for 2009 and beyond, and could leave Dale Earnhardt, Inc., for another team. The Army sponsorship is a year-by-year affair, and is renegotiated at the end of each season for the next year. Sources close to the situation tell Sirius Speedway that while the Army could still return to the DEI camp next season, officials are talking to at least one other Sprint Cup Series team, including one from the Toyota camp. Mark Martin has steered the US Army Chevrolet to a pair of Top-5 and five Top-10 finishes this season, and stands 24th in points despite running only 12 of the 15 races to date. Aric Almirola has made the other three starts in the car, with one Top-10 finish.(Motorsports Soapbox)(6-17-2008)
UPDATE: Angelique Chengelis reported during ESPN's "NASCAR Now" that the U.S. Army is likely to be on Bill Davis Racing's second car next year.(6-22-2008)
UPDATE 2: The U.S. Army, who has sponsored Martin’s DEI #8 Chevy for the last two season, is shopping other teams now, although [DEI VP of Motorsports Operations John] Story insisted DEI is still in the running to retain the deal. “We are talking to them on a regular basis,” Story said of the U.S. Army. Army officials have not yet decided which team they want to go with next year, multiple sources confirmed on Sunday. One published report had them moving to Bill Davis Racing next season, which was roundly denied by several sources close to the situation. (SPEEDtv.com)(6-23-2008)
UPDATE 3: In a related story, ESPN’s Angelique Chengelis reported yesterday that the Army sponsorship is likely to move from DEI to Bill Davis Racing's #23 Toyota next season. That report has been denied by several sources, however, and Sirius Speedway has learned that Red Bull Racing is actually a leading candidate for the Army deal. Red Bull General Manager Jay Frye first brought the Army sponsorship to NASCAR during his tenure at MB2 Motorsports, and is said to be in serious discussions to secure that sponsorship once again in 2009. There is no word on whether the Army would replace Red Bull as sponsor of either Brian Vickers or AJ Allmendinger next season, or if a third car will be added to the team for former Formula One and current Craftsman Truck Series star Scott Speed.(Motorsports Soapbox)(6-24-2008)
- Mother of 6 Soldiers to be Guest of U.S. Army Team at MIS: Mary Cay Thorrez-Wheeler, a mother of six soldiers, will be a guest of the #8 U.S. Army NASCAR team and driver Mark Martin for Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway (MIS). A resident of Jackson, Mich., Mary Cay will be joined at MIS by five of her Army sons. DJ, the oldest of the six family soldiers, was killed in Iraq during a patrol ambush in October 2003. He joined the Army following the Sept. 11, 2001 tragedies. "It will be an honor to meet Mary Cay and her sons," said Martin. "She is not only an inspiration to her family, but is also an inspiration to all parents who support and believe in their children's ambitions and dreams." The five soldier/siblings who will accompany Mary Cay to the LifeLock 400 NASCAR race are: Quentin (Army Reserve), Paul (Army, active duty), Spencer
(Army, active duty), Dominic (Future Soldier) and Patrick (JROTC). Mary Cay and her sons are scheduled to participate in Sunday's U.S. Army birthday cake-cutting ceremony with Martin and Maj. Gen. Scott West, approximately 11:10 a.m. at the #8 hauler in the MIS garage. The U.S. Army, which was formed on June 14, 1775, is celebrating its 233rd
birthday this weekend.(DEI PR)(6-13-2008)
- Matt Martin quits racing: #8-Mark Martin worked with his son, Matt, at local race tracks for years. Now, though, Matt Martin has decided to walk away from the sport - and that's just fine with his dad. Mark Martin, who has raced in NASCAR since 1981, with a two-year break in 1984 and 1985, says that his 16-year-old son is now "just being a kid. [He] makes great grades," Martin said. "[He's] just a good kid." Martin has no concerns whatsoever about his son's decision not to follow in his own path, either. "I'm relieved," Martin said Friday at Pocono Raceway, where he'll race this weekend as part of his limited schedule with Dale Earnhardt Inc. "He's talking about college. A little different path than I took, so that's good."(SceneDaily)(6-8-2008)