Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Could a Return to DEI Be in His Future?

Sandra MacWattersCorrespondent IMay 1, 2010

MOORESVILLE, NC - APRIL 29: (L-R) Teresa Earnhardt, President and CEO Dale Earnhardt Inc., Dale Earnhardt Jr., co-owner of JR Motorsports and Richard Childress, owner of Childress Racing answer questions after unveiling the #3 Wrangler car that Earnhardt Jr. will drive in the Nationwide race in Daytona later this year,  April 29, 2010 in Mooresville, North Carolina. (Photo by Mary Ann Chastain/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Mary Ann Chastain/Getty Images

Three powerful forces reunited at Dale Earnhardt Inc. on April 29 for the unveiling of the No. 3 Wrangler NASCAR Nationwide car Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive in Daytona.

There were smiles, laughter, and absolutely no evidence there had ever been hard feelings between Dale Jr. and Teresa Earnhardt.  Richard Childress was proud as a peacock to see his car on display.  He has maintained a business relationship with Earnhardt/Ganassi Racing.

The reunion took place to honor Dale Earnhardt Sr. on his birthday and unveil the beautiful tribute car.  It was quite the sight and perhaps a glimpse into the future.

Certainly the threesome shared a common thread which was the love and bond each had in their own special way with the legendary "Intimidator."

It did not hurt to think about the money that would be generated through memorabilia sales of the No. 3 Wrangler replica car that Jr. will be driving for the one-time race in July.

There are possibly some subplots to this gathering of Dale Jr., Teresa, and Childress.

It is true Earnhardt Jr. left his father's business, DEI, when his step-mother Teresa refused to give him 51 percent ownership while he was driving the No. 8 Budweiser NASCAR Sprint Cup car.

As things continued to go south at DEI, Jr. made the decision to head for greener pastures at Hendrick Motorsports.  The move has had less than the awesome expectations that were placed on the popular driver of the No. 88.

Though Dale Jr. has improved from his dismal 2009 season and shows he can run up front this year there are still no wins for him.  It has been 66 races since his last win going into the race at Richmond International Speedway.

Rumors have abounded as to whether Earnhardt Jr. will field a Sprint Cup car out of JR Motorsports.  Kelley Earnhardt insists they will stick to Nationwide cars and driver development.

The rumor factory has also produced scenarios that have Dale Jr. driving for Childress.  Though many fans want him to drive the No. 3 Sprint Cup car for RCR, that appears to be a burden Jr. does not want.  It was his father's car.

This is where things start to get interesting.  Could it be somehow Dale Jr. and Teresa Earnhardt have made peace?  Perhaps she has realized the loss of her stepson/driver had considerably more impact than was anticipated.

How perfect would it be for Earnhardt Jr. to return to DEI, perhaps even with Budweiser now that they will probably leave Kasey Kahne.  RCR would continue to be involved with chassis and engines. 

That leaves Ganassi Racing, part of DEI still in the equation.  They run out of a shop in Concord.  Jamie McMurray and Juan Montoya are the current drivers under that banner.

Ganassi Racing also fields cars in the Izod IndyCar series.  They could certainly survive without involvement with DEI.

If Dale Earnhardt Jr. could return to Teresa's empire, Dale Earnhardt Inc. and bring Budweiser back it would seem logical Jr. could also bring other quality drivers with him.  After all that is what he does at JR Motorsports.  Strong sponsors would also fall back into line.

Danica Patrick intends to move toward the Sprint Cup Series and JR Motorsports not only has her signed to drive their Nationwide car, but has a relationship with GoDaddy.com

Tony Eury Sr. and Tony Eury Jr. would also be available as crew chiefs for a NASCAR Sprint Cup team.  It is a position they handle well and should return to.

Though many will think it odd, could JR Motorsports and DEI establish some kind of alignment? 

Hendrick Motorsports did not prove to be a panacea for Dale Jr. and now Kasey Kahne is moving in. 

Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Kasey are the perfect clean-cut, GQ types that look swell in the HMS dress shirts.  Then there is Dale Jr., who dances to his own music and may not be euphoric about remaining with Hendrick, especially if the wins don't start coming.

All of this may seem a little far out given the history Dale Jr. has with Teresa Earnhardt, but time heals many things.

Perhaps in some odd way Dale Earnhardt Sr. was looking down on the merry threesome assembled at his place and directing cosmic energy that just may resurrect all that he had worked so hard for.

It may not be unimaginable to think of Dale Jr. racing for DEI and this time he will own 51 percent.


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