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After new deal with Sony, Budweiser sponsorship still in limbo for Jr.

OAKVILLE, Calif. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. has signed an
endorsement deal with Sony Electronics, but he still isn't saying
what role longtime sponsor Budweiser will have with him when he
joins Hendrick Motorsports next season.


"I'm a big electronics fan. I'm a big computer guy. It's
products I can dig," Earnhardt told reporters Thursday at a winery
in the heart of California's Napa Valley. He will be competing on
Sunday in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway in nearby
Sonoma.


His deal with Sony is a personal services contract that gives
the company use of his name, likeness and voice for promotions. He
also has a similar deal with Budweiser that will continue next
year, regardless of what's on his car.


Budweiser has been Earnhardt's primary sponsor since 1999, and
the beer manufacturer wants to continue its relationship with him
at Hendrick. But car owner Rick Hendrick isn't actively pursuing
new sponsors, and it's possible Bud could get shut out.


Earnhardt also said a possible endorsement deal with sporting
goods manufacturer Adidas was "on the wish list."


Earnhardt's move to Hendrick is expected to clean up his
sometimes scruffy image to match that of his teammates, Jeff Gordon
and Jimmie Johnson, although he appeared at Thursday's news
conference in a scraggy beard, an untucked dress shirt and worn
jeans -- with Puma athletic shoes.


Earnhardt, who convinced his sister to loan him the money to buy
a computer when he was a teenager, said his father never believed
the Internet would be a success.


"That's one place he was wrong and I was right. I took a lot of
typing classes in high school," he said.


Neither Earnhardt nor Stuart Redsun, Sony's vice president of
corporate marketing, would discuss the financial arrangement or the
length of the deal.


"We're very happy at Sony to have Dale Junior involved for some
time," Redsun said.


Earnhardt said he got a new digital camera out of the deal.


"The cash is great, but the product is good, too," he said.