If Big E were still here?

Published 5:37 pm Friday, November 14, 2008

Former Auburn football coach Pat Dye once said that “hindsight is 50/50.” That quote has been popping in my mind a lot over the past week as the announcement came that Teresa Earnhardt had yet again put a dark cloud over the business that bears the name of the greatest racer ever.

You can say 100 times over “what would be happening if Big E were still here?” Hey, I say the same thing over and over. But the fact is that he is not here and we will never know what would be happening. His son wouldn’t be driving for another team and DEI would not be merging with a mid-level Dodge team. That, I feel very confident.

Dale Earnhardt Inc. merged with Ganassi Racing this week forming Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing. The team will consist of four teams—the Nos. 1, 8, 41 and 42. Currently the newly formed operation has Bass Pro Shops sponsoring the No. 1 with Martin Truex Jr., Wrigley’s gum will sponsor the No. 8 for half the season with Aric Almirola, and Juan Montoya will drive the No. 42 with Target on the hood.

Sponsorship for the other half of the season for Almirola and full sponsorship for the No. 41 car will be forthcoming, they say. I don’t think you will ever see the fourth car make it to the track and Almirola will only compete in half the races.

Let’s face it. DEI’s track record since 2001 for attracting corporate sponsorship is pretty slim—like zero. Think back, can you name the last major sponsor that has joined forces with DEI that the current leadership worked to get? Nope, because there are none.

Even though Teresa would never admit it, how big of mistake was it to allow Dale Earnhardt Jr. to leave DEI? Let’s look back and see what has happened to the once powerful Dale Earnhardt Inc. over the last 12 months or so.

Dale Junior announced that he would be spending the next five years driving for Rick Hendrick. His sponsor at the time, Budweiser announced a new agreement with Kasey Kahne and Gillette Evernham. DEI purchased the assets of Ginn Racing and pretty much got nothing for it. The only good things that came from that acquisition was have the association of Mark Martin for 18 months and the U.S. Army sponsorship, which has since moved to Tony Stewart’s new team. And Martin is moving to Hendrick next season, becoming Junior’s teammate in the process.

Now, the team is splintered even further. Instead of working with Junior to allow him to have some ownership in the company, Teresa would rather bring in a guy that has had no success to speak of in cup racing.

Going to be real interesting to see how this thing shakes out, but I don’t think there’s a good ending to this fairy tale.

Three new champions will be crowned this weekend in NASCAR’s top three divisions. The cup title is pretty much decided with Jimmie Johnson claiming his third in a row. Johnny Benson leads Ron Hornaday be only three points in the truck series, and Carl Edwards trails Clint Bowyer by 56 points in the Nationwide series.

Have a fun weekend and here’s an early “Attaboy” to all the new champions.