DEI back in Sprint Cup? 'It could happen'

May, 21, 2010

CONCORD, N.C. -- Imagine what it would be like to have a Dale Earnhardt Inc. car in a Sprint Cup race again. Imagine what it would be like to have Dale Earnhardt Jr. in one.

Kerry Earnhardt has.

"Never say never," Dale Earnhardt's oldest child said on Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "You never know what life holds for the future. It would be great to see it. I can't tell you what you're going to be doing tomorrow, so you never know."

Earnhardt and his stepsister Taylor were at CMS to unveil a Wheaties box featuring their seven-time NASCAR champion father. In between stories about the first time Earnhardt was on a cereal box, they were asked if DEI could return to where it was before the merger with Chip Ganassi Racing turned DEI into Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and stripped the Mooresville building of most of its employees.

They were asked if the organization could be strong enough to field its own cars under the banner their father created.

"That place was built on people and racing," Kerry said. "I'd give anything to have that back. To have a Dale Earnhardt Inc. entry into the NASCAR circuit would be an awesome feat.

"We were the best out there. Dad made sure that we had the best of everything."

DEI hasn't fielded a Cup car since 2008, the year after Earnhardt Jr. left for Hendrick Motorsports, due to a lack of financial and sponsor support. Kerry, who still works for the organization, admitted it would take "a lot" to resurrect the company.

"We've got the core there," he added. "It's there. It could happen."

It might take something crazy like Earnhardt Jr. returning. There's no indication that will happen. NASCAR's most popular driver likely would move JR Motorsports from Nationwide to Cup before making such a move, and he insists he wants to remain at HMS for as long as Rick Hendrick will keep him.

But the family is getting along better these days as we saw when DEI owner Teresa Earnhardt, Earnhardt Jr. and other family members gathered to unveil a No. 3 Wrangler Nationwide car that Earnhardt Jr. will drive on July 2 at Daytona.

They have rubbed elbows the past few weeks leading to Sunday's Hall of Fame induction ceremony, where Earnhardt will be in the shrine's first class.

Both Kerry and Taylor insist the family isn't as fractured as people think.

"Anyone who saw the Wrangler announcement, you saw Teresa and Dale Jr., they were in there interacting, talking," Kerry said. "People have decisions to make in life. Sometimes you wonder if they're right or wrong, but you have to sometimes get the gusto and go for it."

Maybe one day things will return to the way they were.

Just imagine.

David Newton | email

ESPN Staff Writer



You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?