Saturday, December 1, 2007

What really happened with the DEI / Dale Jr. Divorce?

The short answer is: I don't know. You don't know either, and possibly none of us will ever know. I can make some guesses though.

A few givens. #1 is that Dale Jr. and Teresa have had a rocky relationship, even before Dale's death. It's probably gotten worse since Dale's death.

#2 is that Dale Jr. did not have very good engines this year.

#3 is that DEI has in general been on a downward decline performance wise for more than a year. Maybe as much as 4 or 5 years.

I guess the main thing is that Dale and Teresa obviously don't see eye to eye anymore.

DEI, with Max Siegel and Teresa Earnhardt had a little private to do with select members of the media yesterday. The media folks were not allowed to bring in tape recorders, and apparently not allowed to talk much about the goings on.

This strikes me as more than funny, it's really strange. Folks, members of the media talk about who they've talked to, what they've seen, etc. That's what media people do. It's their jobs to do so.

In the little deal yesterday the media folks were not allowed to do their jobs.

Folks, This is straight out of the Hillary Clinton, or for that matter George W. Bush campaign for president playbook. You invite important members of the media to your little party, you schmooze with them, and hopefully they will say nice things about you in the future. I don't understand any other reason for DEI to do what they did yesterday. It's all about spin control, folks, and I don't mean the kind where you hit the fence facing on coming traffic in your race car.

The folks at DEI can now boast about their franchise drivers Martin Truex, Jr. and Mark Martin. No disrespect to Martin Truex, but he's won exactly 1 race in his Cup career. Mark Martin has won more, but he's only driving part time. With Dale Jr.'s departure, DEI has not only lost the primary money maker for the business, but an important sponsor, Budweiser, who has been with Dale Jr. since 1999.

With their merger with Bobby Ginn, DEI did pick up the US Army as a sponsor, and that will be the primary on the 8 car this year with Mark Martin and Aric Almirola splitting the driving duties. DEI seems to be spinning this as a positive for the company, but can this really be a good move for them?

Aric Amirola and Mark Martin are good drivers, and will represent the Army well. I have no doubt about that. Does DEI think they made a positive move by replacing Dale Jr. and Budweiser with the aforementioned drivers? They'd be crazy to think so.

Dale Jr. did not win a race in 2007, but he probably made more money for DEI than any other driver did for their owner. Dale Jr. didn't make that money on the race track, but with his sponsors. People pay money to see Dale Earnhardt Jr. They don't pay money to see a lot of other drivers.

Personally, I don't want to see the house that Dale Earnhardt built go down in flames. I hope DEI continues to put on a good show, and will attract good drivers and sponsors. This is Dale Earnhardt Incorporated, folks. I don't want to see it fail.

Neither does Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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