Skip to content

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

Feb 21, 2014, 2:06 PM EDT

Indianapolis 500 - Practice Getty Images

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

Latest Posts
  1. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 5 pm ET — All 12 drivers in Chase Contenders Round

    Oct 1, 2014, 3:17 PM EDT

    141001-NASCAR-AMERICA

    Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America goes in-depth with all 12 drivers in Round 2 of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, also known as the Contenders Round.

  2. Report: Australian-owned team, driver and sponsor to debut in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2015

    Oct 1, 2014, 2:10 PM EDT

    NCWTS logo

    While Marcos Ambrose is returning to his native Australia after this season, a new Australian-owned team is set to make its debut in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series next season, complete with an Australian-born driver and Aussie primary sponsor.

  3. Bill Elliott makes awesome $4.2 million real estate deal

    Oct 1, 2014, 1:53 PM EDT

    (Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Bill Elliott figured real estate would be a good investment many years ago, and did that belief ever pay off for the soon-to-be NASCAR Hall of Famer.

  4. Ryan Villopoto leaving American motocross, will race MXGP series for ‘final year of racing’

    Oct 1, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT

    Photo credit: Matt Rice/ProMotocross.com Photo credit: Matt Rice/ProMotocross.com

    Kawasaki officially announced that reigning supercross champion Ryan Villopoto will head to Europe next year to race the MXGP series. Davi Millsaps and Wil Hahn will replace him on the American Monster Energy Kawasaki team.

  5. Will Michael Waltrip survive Round 4 elimination on Dancing With The Stars?

    Oct 1, 2014, 1:08 PM EDT

    (Photo courtesy Dancing With The Stars) (Photo courtesy Dancing With The Stars)

    He’s reached the fourth round of Dancing With The Stars, but will NASCAR’s Michael Waltrip and partner Emma Slater make it to the fifth round?

  6. Jeff Gordon is now just 3 top-10 finishes from tying Mark Martin for second on all-time list

    Oct 1, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT

    (AP Photo/John Raoux) AP

    Jeff Gordon is now just three top-10 finishes away from tying Mark Martin for second most top-10s in a career. And in an ironic twist, Gordon is still seeking his first pole at this Sunday’s race venue, Kansas Motor Speedway.

  7. Honda releases first image of F1 2015 engine, no driver announcement due at Suzuka

    Oct 1, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT

    © Honda © Honda

    More details revealed ahead of Honda’s return to F1 in 2015 with McLaren.

  8. Veteran crew chief Mike Ford named to run NNS team effort for John Wes Townley

    Oct 1, 2014, 10:16 AM EDT

    (Jason Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Veteran NASCAR crew chief Mike Ford has joined Athenian Motorsports, the Nationwide Series team announced Wednesday.

  9. Simona de Silvestro’s F1 hopes at risk due to financial problems

    Oct 1, 2014, 9:59 AM EDT

    Simona de Silvestro AP

    Sauber confirms that her testing programme has been scrapped due to “financial reasons”.

  10. NASCAR AMERICA: Dale Earnhardt Jr. aims for better results in Chase (VIDEO)

    Sep 30, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    Coca-Cola 600 - Practice Getty Images

    “Driver 88″ discusses his performance issues in the Challenger Round with NASCAR AMERICA’s Rick Allen.

  11. NASCAR AMERICA: The strategy of the Contender Round (VIDEO)

    Sep 30, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

    Federated Auto Parts 400 Getty Images

    How do you prepare for two races and then a free-for-all at Talladega? Rick Allen and Kyle Petty of NASCAR AMERICA discuss.

  12. NASCAR: Nationwide Series crewman suspended for violating substance abuse policy

    Sep 30, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT

    nationwideserieslogo

    Also: Crew chief in same series fined, put on probation for car weight issue from last weekend at Dover.

  13. F1: 3rd-place battle between Williams and Ferrari heads for Suzuka

    Sep 30, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    Valtteri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen AP

    Williams’ gap on Ferrari for third in the Constructors’ Championship is down to nine points going into this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.

  14. WATCH LIVE: Dale Earnhardt Jr. talks Contender Round on NASCAR AMERICA

    Sep 30, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    AAA 400 - Qualifying Getty Images

    Also coming up today: A closer look at the Contender Round tracks and who’s been successful at them; Joe Gibbs Racing focusing on continued momentum at Kansas; more radio goodness with the Dover Chase edition of “Scan All 43.”

  15. IndyCar Driver Review: Mikhail Aleshin

    Sep 30, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

    AleshinSunIMS Getty Images

    Sixteenth in the 2014 IndyCar season was rookie Mikhail Aleshin, ever the fighter.

  16. Formula E CEO Agag hopeful for several motor/battery manufacturers in 2015-16

    Sep 30, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT

    Photo courtesy FIA Formula E Photo courtesy FIA Formula E

    Agag hopes for “three or four different makers of motors and batteries” during F-E’s second season.

  17. IndyCar Driver Review: Justin Wilson

    Sep 30, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    JWilFinal2014 Getty Images

    P15 caps a difficult IndyCar season for Justin Wilson and Dale Coyne Racing.

  18. NASCAR: Corey Lajoie set for four-race run in No. 98 Nationwide Series car

    Sep 30, 2014, 2:47 PM EDT

    Sylvania 300 - Qualifying Getty Images

    The son of two-time Nationwide Series champion Randy Lajoie will race the upcoming NNS events at Kansas, Charlotte, Texas, and Homestead.

  19. IndyCar Driver Review: Charlie Kimball

    Sep 30, 2014, 2:15 PM EDT

    Shell Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston - Day 3 Getty Images

    Charlie Kimball fights through an OK, but often challenging, 2014 season en route to P14 into the IndyCar standings.

Video from NASCAR America

Dale Jr. not worried about Chase struggles
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Gordon (1739)
  2. K. Harvick (1443)
  3. K. Busch (1219)
  4. J. Coulter (1094)
  5. R. Blaney (1080)