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Chip Ganassi explains why ‘Earnhardt’ is no longer part of team name

Feb 21, 2014, 2:06 PM EDT

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – For the first time since 1996, there will not be a team in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series with “Earnhardt” in its corporate name.

The string began in 1996 when the late Dale Earnhardt formed Dale Earnhardt Inc. In less than a decade, it had become one of the premier teams in Cup competition, with son and namesake Dale Earnhardt Jr. as its on-track figurehead.

During his tenure with DEI, Junior earned 17 of his 19 career Cup victories, including a season-high six wins in 2004, beginning with an emotional victory in the season-opening Daytona 500.

But once Junior left DEI for Hendrick Motorsports in 2008, the once-feared company began by the man they called The Intimidator began to slowly disappear.

Now, the Earnhardt corporate name is essentially extinct.

After an ill-fated and short-lived merger with Ginn Racing in mid-2007, team owner Teresa Earnhardt lent her company’s name and some of its assets to fellow team owner Chip Ganassi, forming Earnhardt Ganassi Racing in 2009.

In the year before Junior left the family fold, Earnhardt’s widow also lent her late husband’s surname to Richard Childress Racing to form a new business – known as Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technology – designed to build motors for both RCR and other teams that would lease the engines.

But as the Earnhardt name lived on with other teams, Teresa Earnhardt withdrew more and more from being active in racing. She continued to oversee the still-thriving souvenir business that memorialized her late husband and kept his name and legend alive, but that was about it.

Now in 2014, in the same year that Austin Dillon has brought back Earnhardt’s fabled No. 3 for the first time since Dale was killed in the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, what was Earnhardt Ganassi Racing for the last five seasons has reverted back to its original name prior to joining forces with Earnhardt, namely Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.

And what was Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technology has quietly become simply ECR, with a team source telling MotorSportsTalk that “the E no longer stands for anything. It doesn’t stand for Earnhardt. It’s just ECR now.”

Ganassi spoke to MotorSportsTalk at Daytona International Speedway on Friday about how the relationship with Teresa Earnhardt essentially disappeared with time, to the point where it no longer made sense to keep her late husband’s surname as part of the team.

“I wish I could explain it but I can’t explain it,” Ganassi said. “I don’t have a good answer for you. We had a relationship and I don’t know what happened. We can’t get her on the phone; it’s hard to try to communicate with somebody. She obviously has some other things on her plate, I guess, and that’s her prerogative.

“She was never active in the team. I think she wanted to keep the name out there to some extent, and I don’t know what Richard’s (Childress) relationship is there (Earnhardt), but it’s kinda the same thing.

“There’s no ill will, I just don’t have an answer, to tell you the truth. She just wasn’t there anymore.”

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  1. jsally430 - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    To bad she wouldn’t let junior run the team like he wanted . Probably would’ve never happened this way . What a shame

    • huntjl88olddirtydawg - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:52 PM

      When she did Jr like she did I knew DEI wouldn’t be around much longer. She didn’t care about running a race team. She only wanted all the money.

    • fuelman1967 - Feb 21, 2014 at 4:46 PM

      Dale had 4 kids, not just Junior. All people talk about is poor Junior. Right, wrong, or indifferent Teresa did what was best for ALL four Earnhardt kids, not just Junior and Kelley. Janis isn’t a slam against Ju joe but if he can’t win in a Hendrick’s car, what makes you think he would be winning in a car he owns?

      • lindiad1 - Feb 21, 2014 at 7:04 PM

        The one I feel sorry for was Kerry ,Dale Sr didn’t even act like he existed .Jr was going to help his nephew Jeffery but instead he helped Danica Patrick in nationwide ,plus why should of he gotten 51% of DEI when there are 4 kids and Kerry is the oldest ,sorry don’t feel sorry for JR at all

  2. fande3rls - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    Thanks teresa for throwing your own stepson out of what his father wanted for him.

  3. tonyc920 - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    You don’t know the details Dawg, you can’t make such a statement. Sure the DEI operation had issues after Dale passed. Jr wanted to operate it but that’s a tall order when you really need to focus on being a driver first. You can’t do it all. I think Junior is better off with Hendrick than what would have been DEI. Teresa did the right thing, selling it rather than trying to run a business she knew very little about.

  4. manik56 - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    Sounds like Dale Sr. needed better estate planning.

    • 40fan - Feb 21, 2014 at 4:36 PM

      Dale Sr. didn’t see her as the witch she is.

  5. 1pass - Feb 21, 2014 at 6:02 PM

    Teresa should have sucked it up and given Jr. the 51% he deserved of the company. Probably would still be here and thriving . Earnhardt’s name would have survived to live on.

  6. mssaustin - Feb 22, 2014 at 1:20 AM

    Like my Grandma used to say ‘If if and buts were candy and nuts we would all have Merry Christmas’. It is sad the Earnhardt name is only carried on by Jr. It is sad Teresa lost her husband in such a public way. No one here knows why she did what she did. But if it wasn’t what Dale Sr wanted he should have set it up differently.

  7. smitty0629 - Feb 22, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    just wish Jr. could go and get his balls back from Teresa, went to the shop a couple months ago and I guess they’re hardly ever open to even buy souvenirs , sad deal

  8. whodeylifer - Feb 23, 2014 at 5:30 AM

    If Dale could see what has happened over the years he would haunt Teresa. She should have kept running his apparel business, and let Kelly run DEI and Jr drive and make his input. Kerry could have worked in the race shop. Taylor is too busy being like her momma, not saying she didn’t love her Daddy. Just don’t think she would have ever liked the grind of running a race team, let alone DEI.

    Now look what happens to DEI. She starts whoring Dale’s name and out to any company that will agree to pay her. Screws Chip around by not answering her phone and not returning calls. Just gives up hundreds if not millions of $’s of DEI’s machines, for an allowance basically. Now she is doing the “Earnhardt Collection” for Schumacher Homes. I wonder if the Garajmahal is even open anymore. Sad. You can see she has always been the gold digger we thought. She loved his $ more than him. Greedy !@#$!

    Hopefully she will get so hard up she will sell Dale/Kelly their Dad’s name and rights back.

    • nascarolina - Mar 1, 2014 at 11:37 PM

      Kerry did work @ DEI until recently, however he and his wife Rene are the designers of those “EARNHARDT COLLECTION” homes for Schumaker, not Teresa. They are beautiful homes, open and natural.
      The name Earnhardt won’t be disappearing from racing with both Jr. and Kerry’s sons Jeffrey & Bobby Dale all driving! Personally, I’m waiting to see Kelley’s daughter Karsyn move up into the big wheels and make everyone forget Danica.

  9. willdigg - Feb 23, 2014 at 8:34 PM

    It seems really odd that the name Earnhardt is not attached to a race team any more, especially with Dale Sr. having so many kids. Just the name alone has racing written all over it and would, or should have no problems acquiring the needed funding.
    But that’s just my take on it and I have been wrong before.

  10. sassy4smoke14 - Mar 28, 2014 at 12:03 AM

    Dale left his wife have total run of the business because he said his job was to drive the car and hers was DEI. The man said many times if it wasn’t for her there would have been no business. She had the business smarts and he had the driving smarts. I am sorry but Dale did the right thing when he left it to his wife. Jr has proven he can’t do a very good job of running a business because he is to busy being a party boy. That’s why his sister runs Jr.Motorsports. I look forward to seeing Kerry’s son Bobby Dale work his way up to nascar like his pappy did. And not just because his name his Earnhardt. His uncle offered him a ride and he said no I won’t do it that way I want to EARN my way. And he is a very good driver.

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