Feb 21, 2014, 2:06 PM EDT
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.”
Follow me @JerryBonkowski
May 24, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
British driver gutted to lose the Monaco Grand Prix following an error by Mercedes on the pit wall.
May 24, 2015, 12:46 PM EDT
Karam and Daly – two of America’s young hopes – out of Indy 500, while Sato, Briscoe and Tagliani also have issues.
May 24, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
Force India strikes back in Monaco with Perez finishing seventh.
May 24, 2015, 11:43 AM EDT
After running in third for the majority of the Monaco Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel managed to move up to second place thanks to Mercedes’ error with Hamilton in the pits.
May 24, 2015, 10:27 AM EDT
Rosberg claims his third consecutive victory in Monaco after Mercedes wrongly pits Lewis Hamilton late on.
May 24, 2015, 9:53 AM EDT
Lewis Hamilton looked poised to win the race in Monaco, only for a mistake by the Mercedes team to hand victory to teammate Nico Rosberg.
May 24, 2015, 9:09 AM EDT
The Andretti Autosport driver has been recognized when he least expects it since drinking the milk last season
May 24, 2015, 8:45 AM EDT
What to watch for in the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500.
May 24, 2015, 7:30 AM EDT
Lewis Hamilton will lead away the grid in Monaco ahead of Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel.
May 24, 2015, 7:15 AM EDT
To what effect the tow effect of the new super speedway aero kits will have on passing Sunday remains to be seen.
May 24, 2015, 6:45 AM EDT
Lewis Hamilton goes in search of his second Monaco win on Sunday, but can Nico Rosberg stop him and claim a hat-trick of victories around the streets of the principality?
May 24, 2015, 6:15 AM EDT
The F1 supremo explains how Lewis Hamilton’s love of the limelight and fame is doing wonders for the sport.
May 24, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT
MotorSportsTalk’s Tony DiZinno analyzes the chances of each of the 33 drivers for this year’s Indianapolis 500.
May 24, 2015, 5:08 AM EDT
Weiron Tan and Jake Eidson are winners Saturday at the artist/track formerly known as Indianapolis Raceway Park.
May 23, 2015, 6:04 PM EDT
Chip Ganassi Racing driver will make his 300th career start Sunday.
May 23, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT
After taking the lead at the start, Stanaway goes wire-to-wire to take his first GP2 win in Monaco.
May 23, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT
Spaniard suffers another issue on his car during qualifying on Saturday, leaving him P15 on the grid before penalties.
May 23, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT
The Audi Sport ABT driver delivers a crushing win in Berlin at the disused Tempelhof airport, only to then be disqualified in the hours following the race.
May 23, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT
Live coverage from Glen Helen starts with the pre-race show at 4 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Live Extra and continues with first motos at 5 p.m. ET. Second motos will be live on NBCSN at 7 p.m. ET.
- Hamilton: Impossible to express how I feel after Monaco defeat 0
- Rosberg lucks in to third straight Monaco GP win after Mercedes’ mistake costs Hamilton victory 36
- 2015 Indy 500 driver-by-driver one-liners 0
- Bell: “Carb Day is many things to many people; mine was many jobs” 0
- Hamilton storms to first Monaco GP pole position 1
- Vettel fastest for Ferrari in final practice for Monaco GP 0
- Chip Ganassi lobbying for IndyCar schedule changes 0