Tuesday, July 24, 2007
DEI name remains after merger with Ginn Racing
By David Newton and Marty Smith
INDIANAPOLIS -- Dale Earnhardt Inc. will be a four-car Nextel Cup operation when it arrives at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after Tuesday's merger with Ginn Racing.
Sources close to the situation said the deal was finalized late Tuesday afternoon and that an official announcement will be made on Wednesday.
That means four DEI drivers -- Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr., Paul Menard and Mark Martin -- are locked into Sunday's race at the Brickyard. Menard will pick up the owner's points held by Ginn's No. 13 car that was 34th.
Bobby Ginn, who took over majority ownership of Ginn Racing late last season, will remain as a financial partner. Minority owner Jay Frye will remain in some capacity with the day-to-day operations.
DEI president Max Siegel will oversee the operation -- which still will be known as Dale Earnhardt Inc. -- and current DEI executives John Story, Steve Hmiel and Richie Gilmore will assist Frye in sorting out personnel details, sources said.
Under the merger, DEI acquires all of Ginn's assets, including its massive headquarters in Mooresville, N.C. The organization begun by the late Dale Earnhardt has been looking for land for almost a year because there is no room to expand at the current facility.
Ginn has been looking for financial relief the past month without sponsor funding for the No. 13 car that was driven by Joe Nemechek and No. 14 driven by Sterling Marlin.
Both drivers were given their release last week, with rookie Regan Smith moved into Marlin's car for the remainder of the year before the merger. Smith likely will finish the season splitting the No. 01with Martin, who has been running a part-time schedule.
Sources said Martin is committed to running at least 22 races for DEI next season and work long term with the developmental driver program as he was at Ginn.
The deal gives Menard, who was outside the top 35 guaranteed a spot in the field, a comfortable 244-point lead over the 36th-place car.
But sources made it clear the deal had nothing to do with points and everything to do with strengthening DEI, which loses Earnhardt to Hendrick Motorsports next season.
Who steps into Earnhardt's car remains to be decided. DEI is in contention with Joe Gibbs Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Evernham Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing for Kyle Busch, who loses his ride at HMS to Earnhardt in '08.
David Newton and Marty Smith cover Nextel Cup racing for ESPN.com.