Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
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Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI) was founded by Dale Earnhardt and his wife, Teresa Earnhardt. From 1998 to 2009, the company operated as a NASCAR-related organization in Mooresville, North Carolina, United States. Earnhardt was a seven-time Winston Cup champion. He died in a crash on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. Despite his ownership of the DEI racing team, Earnhardt never drove for his team in the Winston Cup; instead, he raced for his long-time mentor and backer Richard Childress at RCR. In the late-2000s, DEI suffered critical financial difficulties after drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., and sponsors Anheuser-Busch, National Automotive Parts Association and United States Army left the team; DEI consequently merged with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2009, moving their equipment into the latter's shop, while the former's closed down.
|Base||Mooresville, North Carolina|
|Series||Sprint Cup, Nationwide Series, Camping World Truck Series, ARCA|
|Race drivers||Dale Earnhardt Jr., Michael Waltrip, Steve Park, Darrell Waltrip, Robby Gordon, Mark Martin, Kenny Wallace, Paul Menard, Martin Truex, Jr., Regan Smith, Aric Almirola, Kerry Earnhardt|
|Sponsors||Budweiser, NAPA Auto Parts, Pennzoil, Bass Pro Shops, Menards, U.S. Army, Burger King, Quaker State, Nilla Wafers, Oreo, Peak, Papa John's Pizza, Smith & Wesson, Taco Bell, KFC, Goodwrench, Coca-Cola, Ritz, Wrangler, ACDelco|
DEI celebrated the life and legacy of Earnhardt through an annual celebration of his birthday on April 29, also known as Dale Earnhardt Day. DEI maintains a showroom at the former race shop in Mooresville where fans can purchase memorabilia and other goods. The organization also pursues partnerships which bring tribute to Earnhardt's memory. Notable drivers for DEI included Dale Earnhardt Jr., Michael Waltrip, Steve Park, Martin Truex Jr., Mark Martin, John Andretti, Kenny Wallace, and Darrell Waltrip.
Sprint Cup historyEdit
Car No. 01 historyEdit
- Derrike Cope (1997) and Ernie Irvan (1998-1999)
The No. 01 car began in 1997 as the No. 36 MB2 Motorsports Pontiac with Skittles sponsorship. Derrike Cope was the driver and he finished 27th in the final point standings. In 1998, Ernie Irvan, a veteran driver, took over from Cope. The season was highlighted by Irvan's pole win at the Brickyard 400. M&M's replaced Skittles as the team's sponsor in 1999. Irvan retired from racing in September 1999, following a crash at the Michigan International Speedway. Dick Trickle temporarily replaced Irvan before the journeyman, Jerry Nadeau coming over from Melling Racing became the driver of the 36 team.
- Ken Schrader (2000-2002)
Nadeau left MB2 due to a prior commitment to drive for Hendrick Motorsports to drive the 25 in 2000. MB2 then signed four-time winner Ken Schrader. Schrader drove the No. 36 for three seasons including 2 Top 20 seasons, before leaving for BAM Racing.
- Jerry Nadeau (2003)
In 2003, the United States Army replaced M&M's as the team's sponsor. The car number switched from No. 36 to No. 01 to support the Army's slogan, "An Army of One." Nadeau agreed to return to MB2 as the driver of the No. 01 car.
In May 2003, Nadeau was seriously injured in an accident while practicing at Richmond International Raceway. Nadeau has never returned to motorsports as a driver and is not expected to do so, ending his young career at age 33.
- Joe Nemechek (2003-2006)
The team employed several temporary substitutes before signing Joe Nemechek to drive the No. 01 car. Nemechek won the Banquet 400 at Kansas Speedway in 2004 and signed a multi-year agreement to remain with MB2. Nemechek finished 19th in points in 2004, then improved to 16th in points in 2005. 2006 was a struggle for Nemechek and the 01 team, with the team not scoring a top 10 until finishing 9th at Charlotte in October, the 31st race of the season. Nemechek went winless again, with no pole starts, only two top 10s, and a dismal 27th-place points finish.
In 2007, Nemechek moved over to the now-Ginn Racing's new No. 13 car.
- Mark Martin (2007)
Veteran Mark Martin, coming off his final year with Roush Racing, was signed drive the car for 23 races (21 points races plus the Budweiser Shootout and Nextel All-Star Challenge) in 2007, with Joe Nemechek moving over to the team's new 13 team. Regan Smith was pinned to fill the remaining 16 races of the season, while driving in the Busch Series for the team as well. The team also changed its name to Ginn Racing to reflect Bobby Ginn's new majority interest in the team. Martin was leading in the final turn of the season-opening Daytona 500, after lining up on the final restart with former Roush teammates Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth behind him. Coming down the front stretch, and with the field wrecking behind him, Martin looked to have finally come through at Daytona. But the caution was not called, and Kevin Harvick caught Martin on his outside, beating him to the line by two-hundredths of a second. Martin put together more strong finishes, and after the fourth race at Atlanta was leading the points standings in what was supposed to be his first season of semi-retirement. Resisting the chance to capture his first championship, Martin did step out of the car as scheduled, breaking a streak of 621 consecutive starts. In 24 starts for the team, Martin scored 11 top 10s, and finished 27th in points despite missing 12 races.
- Regan Smith (2007-2008)
Rookie Regan Smith meanwhile made his debut at Bristol Motor Speedway in March, finishing 25th. Smith would run 6 more races in the car, with a best finish of 24th at Talladega Superspeedway. On July 17, it was announced that Smith would move to the 14 car on a full-time basis, replacing veteran Sterling Marlin. Meanwhile, 23-year-old Aric Almirola, who was granted his release from Joe Gibbs Racing after being pulled out of a car he qualified on the pole during a Busch Series race in favor of Denny Hamlin, signed on to be the new co-driver of the 01. With the merger of Ginn and DEI not long afterwards, Smith was left on the sidelines while Almirola ran 5 races. Aric's results were not much better than Regan's, with a best finish of 26th at Phoenix. Martin and Almirola would move to the 8 car for 2008.
In 2008, Smith was named the full-time driver of the 01 car (now fully operated by DEI), with Martin and Almirola as well as sponsor U.S. Army moving to the 8 car to replace the departing Dale Earnhardt Jr. Principal Financial Group was signed as the primary sponsor for the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400. Principal often ran as a secondary sponsor on the sides of the car, with a DEI logo on the hood in lieu of full sponsorship. Steak-umm and Coors Light were also sponsors in one-race deals. Ron Fellows replaced Smith at the two road course races, scoring a 13th-place finish at Watkins Glen. Smith almost won the 2008 AMP Energy 500, passing Tony Stewart on the final lap and crossing the finish line in first. Smith, however, was found to be passing below the yellow line upon video review, and per NASCAR had his position revoked, leading to an 18th-place finish. Though he finished 34th in points with no top 10 finishes, Smith became the first rookie to finish every race he entered during the 2008 season and was named Rookie of the Year at the season's end. The 01 team disbanded after DEI merged with Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, and Smith moved on to Furniture Row Racing.
Car No. 1 historyEdit
- No. 14 (1996-1997)
In 1996, DEI debuted in the Winston Cup at Charlotte Motor Speedway with the No. 14 Racing for Kids-sponsored Chevrolet driven by Robby Gordon. Jeff Green drove the car in another two races that year. In 1997, sponsored by Burger King, Steve Park, a Busch Series standout, drove the car in five races.
- Steve Park (1997-2003)
In 1998, the team switched the car number from No. 14 to No. 1 in an agreement with Richard Jackson, another car owner. DEI received sponsorships from Pennzoil and Park and made a bid for NASCAR Rookie of the Year honors. In the third race of the year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Park failed to qualify. The following week, he broke his leg in an crash while testing at Atlanta. Two weeks later, the team hired Darrell Waltrip, a 3-time champion. He drove the car while Park recovered from his injuries and finished in the Top 10 twice. Park returned at the Brickyard 400 and following a crash, he finished 35th. In 1998, Park posted two 11th-place finishes and finished 42nd in points.
In 1999, Park finished in the Top 10 five times and 14th in points. In 2000, he won his first two Bud Pole awards and won his first race at Watkins Glen International, his home track. He finished the season 11th in points. In 2001, in the first race after Earnhardt's death, he beat Bobby Labonte in a photo finish at North Carolina Speedway. Park's career encountered difficulties at a Busch Series race at Darlington Speedway. During a caution, his steering wheel became disconnected from the column. The car immediately veered to the left and was impacted by the quicker-moving vehicle of Larry Foyt. Kenny Wallace drove the car while Park recuperated and won second place at the Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400 at the North Carolina speedway. Park gradually recovered from his injuries and returned, ironically, at the 2002 spring Darlington race. Park ran strong in his return, taking the lead at lap 18, and proceeding to lead 19 laps. Park, however, crashed when trying to pass Stacy Compton's lapped car, and proceeded to collect polesitter Ricky Craven. Park would finish 39th, 160 laps down. This was one of many signs the accident was still affecting Park, and he struggled to regain his form. Park would suffer another hard crash on the opening lap of a race at Pocono, in which Rusty Wallace collided with Park exiting turn 1. The No. 1 then turned dead left and dragged teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s No. 8 car through wet grass towards the short and relatively unreinforced inside guardrail (prior to SAFER Barriers). Park hit the metal rail, then proceeded to flip several times and land on the driver's side. In mid 2003, he was relieved of driving duties and was replaced by Jeff Green. (Park took over Green's No. 30 AOL Chevy at Richard Childress Racing, previously Earnhardt's car owner)
In a last-second decision in June 2003, Ty Norris suggested a former student of Earnhardt's, Ron Fellows, to drive the No. 1 for the road course events as a road course ringer. In 2001 Fellows was finalizing a deal to drive the No. 1 full-time in 2002 but Earnhardt's death left this invalid. Using advantage of this rare opportunity, Fellows almost won the 2003 Dodge Save/Mart 350 in which he controlled the race late in the event and lost when he waited too long for his final pit stop.
- Part time (2004-2005)
Both Green and Pennzoil left DEI when the 2003 season finished and the team moved to a part-time status. They occasionally fielded cars for John Andretti, a two-time winner. Fellows returned to the No. 1 for the 2004 Watkins Glen race bringing sponsorship of Nilla Wafers and Nutter Butter with him. Fellows finished second behind winner Tony Stewart.
- Martin Truex Jr. (2005-2009)
In the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, DEI ran a part-time schedule. Their driver was Martin Truex Jr. driving a Bass Pro Shops-sponsored car. The team returned to a full-time status in 2006. On June 4, 2007, Truex scored his first career NEXTEL Cup victory in the No. 1 car at the Dover International Speedway in a COT race. Truex also qualified to race in the Chase for the Nextel Cup that year. He was DEI's only representative in the 2007 Chase for the Cup and his qualification is, to date, the last for a driver in a DEI car. At the end of 2009, Truex left the team for Michael Waltrip Racing to drive the No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry.
Car No. 8 historyEdit
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1999-2007)
The No. 8 car was DEI's second cup series entry, the team was formed to bring Dale Earnhardt Jr. to the Winston Cup Series and opted to use the No. 8 which was formerly used by Stavola Brothers Racing, who ceased operations in 1998. Earnhardt Jr. drove the Budweiser-sponsored No. 8 in five Winston Cup races in 1999. He finished in the top ten once and led one lap.
In 2000, Earnhardt Jr. moved to the Winston Cup on a full-time basis. That year, Earnhardt Jr. won two poles and three races (including The Winston, where he became the first rookie to win the event), but finished runner-up to Matt Kenseth in the competition for NASCAR Rookie of the Year. On July 7, 2001, Earnhardt Jr. won the Pepsi 400 at Daytona, the first Cup race at Daytona after Earnhardt, Sr.'s death. Using the No. 8, Earnhardt, Jr. set a record by winning four consecutive races at Talladega.
In 2002, Earnhardt Jr. had a roller-coaster season. He struggled after enduring a concussion at the Fontana race in April—an injury he did not admit to until mid-September. In the three races following Fontana, he finished no better than 30th. However, Earnhardt Jr. rallied to sweep both Talladega races (leading a dominating 133 of 188 laps in the spring race), a pair of Bud Pole Awards and an 11th-place finish in the standings with eleven Top 5s and sixteen Top 10 finishes.
In 2003, Earnhardt Jr. became a true title contender, scoring a record-breaking fourth consecutive win at Talladega, after being involved in a 27-car crash on lap 4. He struggled for most of the race, and was at points a half-lap down, only catching back up to the pack through a caution. The win was controversial because on the last lap, it appeared that Earnhardt Jr. went below the yellow line to gain position, but NASCAR ruled that Matt Kenseth had forced Earnhardt below the line, making it a clean pass. Earnhardt Jr. scored a victory at Phoenix in October, recording a career best 3rd-place effort in the standings, with thirteen Top 5s and twenty-one Top 10 finishes.
On February 15, 2004, 6 years to the day after his father's win, Earnhardt Jr. won the 2004 Daytona 500. He won a further five races that season. Though he failed to qualify for the Chase Cup in 2005, he did race in 2006 when he finished fifth. On May 10, 2007, Earnhardt Jr. announced that he would not return to DEI for the 2008 season; on June 13, 2007, officially announced his move to Hendrick Motorsports (HMS); and on August 16, 2007, that he would not retain the No. 8 car number.
- Mark Martin and Aric Almirola (2008-2009)
On September 12 DEI announced that sponsored by the U.S. Army, No. 8 would be shared between Mark Martin and Aric Almirola for the 2008 season. Martin left DEI after the 2008 season to drive the No. 5 car for HMS. In 2009, the Army withdrew their support in favor of Ryan Newman's No. 39 car at Stewart-Haas Racing.
Almirola was engaged to drive the No. 8 Guitar Hero World Tour-sponsored Chevrolet for the full 2009 season but the sponsorship lasted only five races. Following the 2009 Samsung/Radio Shack 500, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing announced that the operations of the No. 8 team were being suspended indefinitely due to a lack of sponsorship (which had been operating on a race to race basis). Almirola sued Earnhardt Ganassi Racing but the matter was settled out of court.
Car No. 15 historyEdit
- Michael Waltrip (2001-2005)
In 2001, the team raced the NAPA sponsored No. 15 (a possible reference to the No. 15 Ford Thunderbird that Earnhardt drove in 1982 and 1983 for Bud Moore Engineering). Michael Waltrip was the No. 15 driver and won his first race at the Daytona 500. However, his win was overshadowed by Dale Earnhardt's death. Between 2002 and 2005, Waltrip won a further three times (twice at Daytona and once at Talladega) then, announcing he would no longer drive for DEI, he took NAPA to Bill Davis Racing.
- Paul Menard (2006-2008)
For 2006, the No. 15 team moved to a part-time status. Paul Menard, DEI's Busch Series driver drove and sponsorship was provided by Menards Home Improvement stores. Menard finished seventh at the Atlanta Motor Speedway and moved to full-time in the 2007 season. After the merger of Ginn Racing and DEI, the No. 15 team absorbed the owner points of the No. 14 car (formerly driven by Sterling Marlin), so they would be guaranteed a spot in each race for the remainder of the 2007 season. After the 2008 season, Menard left along with his sponsorship to Yates Racing. The DEI No. 15 team was disbanded.
Nationwide Series historyEdit
Car No. 3 historyEdit
Between 1989 and 2000, the No. 3 car won two championships (in 1998 and 1999 with Earnhardt Jr. driving). The car has been driven by Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Michael Waltrip, Neil Bonnett, David Bonnett, Andy Petree, Jeff Green, Steve Park and Ron Hornaday Jr..
Car No. 8 historyEdit
The No. 8 car was raced by DEI from 1984 with Dale Earnhardt as the driver. The car ran from 1984 to 1988 and then again from 2002 to 2008. In 2004 and 2005, it won two championships with Martin Truex Jr. driving in 2004 and 2005. The car has been driven by Dale Earnhardt, Jody Ridley, Kenny Wallace, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hank Parker, Jr., Steve Park, Tony Stewart, Martin Truex, Jr., and Kerry Earnhardt.
Car No. 11 historyEdit
The No. 11 car was run by DEI in the Busch Series. During part of 2004 and through all of the 2005 and 2006 NASCAR seasons, Paul Menard was the driver. There was one win in 2006 at Milwaukee. In 2007 Paul Menard left the Busch Series for the Nextel Cup Series. The car raced on a partial schedule with Truex and Menard sharing the driving.
Car No. 81 historyEdit
In 2003, the No. 81 car raced occasionally in the Winston Cup. Jason Keller and John Andretti did most of the driving. In 2005, the No. 81 was driven in a limited schedule by Earnhardt Jr. at the Daytona, Talladega (restrictor plate races), and Charlotte races in the Busch Series. Since that time, Tim Brown, the National Football League player has acquired the 81 number for his NEXTEL Cup team, backed by Roush Fenway Racing.
Chance 2 MotorsportsEdit
Chance 2 Motorsports was a jointly owned subsidiary of DEI and Earnhardt Jr. The organization was operated by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Teresa Earnhardt. The team won two Busch Series championships with Martin Truex Jr. in 2004 and 2005. After this, Dale Earnhardt Jr. left the partnership with his stepmother to focus on his own race team, JR Motorsports.
Camping World Truck Series historyEdit
Truck No. 16 historyEdit
Dale Earnhardt, Inc. was a part of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series from 1995 through 1999. Ron Hornaday was the full-time driver of the no. 16 Chevrolet C/K, sponsored by Papa Johns in 1995 and Napa Auto Parts from 1996 to 1999. Hornaday collected 25 wins in the no. 16 for DEI and the 1996 and 1998 Craftsman Truck Series Championships.
Truck No. 76 historyEdit
A second DEI truck, no. 76, only made 4 total starts. Dennis Dyer and David Green each ran one race in 1995, and Steve Park made a single start in both the 1996 and 1997 seasons. Dyer was sponsored by Papa John's Pizza, while David Green received sponsorship from Smith & Wesson. Both of Steve Park's starts were in the Action Racing Collectables (now Lionel Racing) colors, a company which Dale Earnhardt partially owned.
- The No. 01 (Mark Martin/Aric Almirola) team was added to the DEI teams.
- The No. 15 (Paul Menard) inherited the owner points from the former No. 14 (Sterling Marlin), which guaranteed a starting spot for Menard at Indianapolis.
- The No. 13 (Joe Nemechek) team of Ginn Racing was disbanded.
- Bobby Ginn was listed as the owner of the No. 01 and No. 15 for the remainder of 2007.
- Teresa Earnhardt was listed as the owner of the No. 1 and No. 8 for the remainder of 2007.
- The shops of Ginn Racing housed the No. 15 and No. 01.
- The shops of DEI housed the No. 1 and No. 8.
- Fabrication work was to be done out of the Ginn Racing shops.
Chip Ganassi RacingEdit
- Further information: Chip Ganassi Racing
On November 12, 2008, DEI and Felix Sabates' Chip Ganassi Racing (Dodge) merged their NASCAR operations into one organization. The team, which became Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, remained a Chevy team. The No. 42 team joined the No. 1 and No. 8 for the 2009 Sprint Cup season. In 2014, EGR reverted to the Chip Ganassi Racing name.
- The No. 40 (Dario Franchitti/David Stremme/Ken Schrader/Sterling Marlin/Jeremy Mayfield/Bryan Clauson) team of Chip Ganassi Racing was disbanded.
- The No. 41 (Reed Sorenson/Scott Pruett) team of Chip Ganassi Racing's number and owner's points were sold to Mayfield Motorsports.
- The No. 01 (Regan Smith) and No. 15 (Paul Menard) teams of DEI was disbanded.
- Chip Ganassi was listed as the owner of the No. 42.
- Teresa Earnhardt was listed as the owner of the No. 1 and No. 8.
Earnhardt Technology GroupEdit
Earnhardt Technology Group (ETG) was created in August 2009 to assist up-and-coming teams. It was founded to contribute resources and opportunities to race in championships. It serves the engineering and parts needs of more than thirty teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the Camping World Truck Series. ETG provides a broad range of engineering services to all levels of the racing industry; distribution of Renton springs; machine shop services (now contributing to many varied fields of mechanical engineering); a leasing service; sales of vehicles and component parts; and consultation and support.
Club E is the official fan club for Dale Earnhardt. It is a membership based fan club with three different levels based on contribution level (ranging from no fee to $49.99). Members of Club E have access to Dale Earnhardt footage, personal items, discounts at the DEI retail store, Carowinds, Kings Dominion, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Kannapolis Intimidators games, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet, and Great Wolf Lodge, Inc. and member only events. Club E is currently suspended but does offer a Facebook page for fans to follow to receive news.
The Dale Earnhardt FoundationEdit
The Dale Earnhardt Foundation was founded with a mission to continue the legacy of Dale Earnhardt through charitable programs and grants reflecting Earnhardt's commitments to children, education and environment and wildlife preservation.
RAD Engine partnershipEdit
After the Fords were dominating the restrictor plate tracks in the late 1990s, DEI, Richard Childress Racing, and Andy Petree Racing partnered up with each other and formed the RAD Engine Program. Their first win was at the 2000 Winston 500 with Dale Earnhardt (which ended up being his 76th and final win). DEI won the 2001 Daytona 500, 2001 Pepsi 400, 2001 EA Sports 500, 2002 Aaron's 499, 2002 Pepsi 400, 2002 EA Sports 500, and the 2003 Daytona 500. RAD ended after Petree pulled out of the series in 2003 to focus on his Busch series program.
Earnhardt Childress Racing TechnologyEdit
Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines (ECR) was formed in May 2007 with cooperation between DEI and Richard Childress Racing, developing and building engines common to the Chevrolet NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series teams. In mid-2008, a stand-alone facility north of Salisbury in Welcome, NC (off exit 85 of I-85). was completed. ECR employs 130 technicians. It participated in the 2010 Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 with Jamie McMurray, the 2011 Southern 500 with Regan Smith, Coca-Cola 600 with Kevin Harvick, and Brickyard 400 with Paul Menard. The company is currently operated solely by RCR as ECR Engines.
JR Motorsports, Richard Childress, and WranglerEdit
On April 29, 2010, at the time of Earnhardt's induction to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, DEI announced a partnership with JR Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing, and Wrangler Jeans where, for one race, as a tribute to his father, Dale Earnhardt Jr. would drive the No. 3, the blue and gold race car driven by Dale Earnhardt in the 1980s. The car was raced in the Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway on 2 July 2010. It was the first Nationwide Series race in the Car of Tomorrow event. Earnhardt Jr. started third, led for thirty-three and won the race. This was his first competitive NASCAR win since 2008.
In 2007, DEI made a driver development contract with Morgan-Dollar Motorsports to provide trucks for developing drivers in 2007. This was inherited in the merger with Ginn Racing.
Sprint Cup SeriesEdit
|Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||291||17||7|
|Martin Truex Jr.||117||1||1|
|Dale Earnhardt Jr.||91||21||9|
|Ron Hornaday, Jr.||35||2||0|
|Hank Parker Jr.||3||0||0|
|Martin Truex Jr.||79||13||10|
Craftsman Truck SeriesEdit
|Ron Hornaday Jr.||122||25||12|
Winston West SeriesEdit
NASCAR Busch East/Camping World East SeriesEdit
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