About Gilmore Expects Dale Jr to sign with DEI soon AND Dale Jr comments, quarrel slowing d
|January 10th, 2007||#1|
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Gilmore Expects Dale Jr to sign with DEI soon AND Dale Jr comments, quarrel slowing d info
Dale Earnhardt Jr. likely isn't going anywhere. Negotiations to re-sign the signature driver of Dale Earnhardt Inc. are on the fast track and likely will be finalized by May if not sooner, DEI director of motorsports Richie Gilmore said on Monday. "Before we come back here in February [for the Daytona 500] would be my wish [to have a deal done] so we wouldn't have the distraction of that every week," Gilmore said during the first day of preseason testing at Daytona International Speedway. "I would say, realistically, probably May." Gilmore said losing the most popular driver on the Nextel Cup Series and the son of seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt never has been a consideration for anybody at DEI, including owner Teresa Earnhardt. Gilmore discounted comments in the Dec. 14 edition of The Wall Street Journal in which Teresa said: "Right now the ball's in [Earnhardt's] court to decide on whether he wants to be a NASCAR driver or whether he wants to be a public personality. I'm around Teresa pretty much every day and I've never heard her comment that way," Gilmore said. "Teresa doesn't get out there a lot to the media, but when I talk to her, it's never negative against Junior that way." Gilmore said every conversation he's had with Teresa involved re-signing her stepson. Gilmore said Teresa has tried to remove herself from negotiations as much as possible "because she thinks it will happen faster maybe if she takes the personal side out of it." Gilmore doesn't find it unusual that Teresa and Earnhardt haven't discussed the comments to the WSJ, noting the two sometimes go two or three months without talking. But he wouldn't describe their relationship as tumultuous as it often is made to sound. "A lot of stuff does get blown out of proportion that makes for good stories," Gilmore said. Gilmore said Earnhardt has become DEI and he can't imagine the company without him, although Earnhardt does talk of driving his father's black #3 for Richard Childress Racing late in his career. "I've never even thought that far down the road," Gilmore said. "Being in the circle with [Earnhardt] and Teresa I don't believe any of us have thought that way."
AND Dale Earnhardt Jr. made it clear on Monday that the tumultuous relationship with his stepmother would be a factor in negotiations to return to the Nextel Cup organization his father built after the 2007 season. He also made it clear he wants to return. Ownership appears to be the biggest stumbling block. "That's the obvious," Earnhardt said during the first day of preseason testing at Daytona International Speedway. "I want to be very involved in the company. Aside from [DEI], I have no interest in ownership." To own a part of DEI, Teresa Earnhardt would have to relinquish at least partial control of an organization she has run since Dale Earnhardt was killed on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. That means comments such as the one she made in the Dec. 14 Wall Street Journal about how Earnhardt needs to decide whether he wants to be a driver or a celebrity will make negotiations more emotional than most. "My relationship with the car owner is definitely going to be a factor in my decision to drive there," Earnhardt said. "I haven't talked to Teresa about what she said in [the Journal]. I figured if anything needed to be said she'd call me up and say it. But you know, my and her relationship definitely factor into my decision." Earnhardt became increasingly pointed in remarks about the contract and his stepmother during a break between practices, at one point saying the relationship with Teresa "ain't a bed [of] roses." He took several shots at her, indirectly referring to her absence from the track. He admitted the uncertainty of having the contract issue settled is the most frustrating part about approaching this season. He also said it is the goal of him and his sister, JR Motorsports executive Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, to get a deal done.(much more at ESPN.com)