Earnhardt Jr. is leaving DEI, unsure of future
The scheduled press conference by Dale Earnhardt Jr. has started this morning. Dale, Jr. says he told the DEI crew & staff this morning that he would not be back in 2008. Martin Truex is not part of his new deal. No plans to field his own team as of yet. No mention of Hendrick supplying him cars or engines.
Summary of statements made today
11:58 -- Press conference ends.
11:55 -- "I'm going to look at everybody from a competition standpoint but I want to be comfortable with the teammates I have I want to feel welcome by the employees at that place wherever that my be. And I need to find a way for it to compliment this building here and the employees. Its got to give me the opportunity to take care of my family. I wont allow myself to try and narrow it down because I feel I wouldn't be giving myself the whole opportunity."
11:52 -- "I love driving cars. The business itself gets pretty hard sometimes outside the car but that motivates me behind the wheel. I can't wait to race Saturday. I'm gonna work hard. I think for me personally its to go out there and be ridiculous about my effort and leave a good impression on those guys. I don't expect everyone to have their entire heart into it but when I'm behind the wheel I'm racing. I think we can have a successful season."
11:48 -- "I've always been interested in the opportunity to race Busch cars and I'm going to look into that becoming a reality. We've been trying so hard in working with DEI that we haven't really looked into it. But I would love to drive in Busch out of here."
11:43 -- "I don't think that would be wise to put any other individuals in this. Tony Jr. will make his decisions and I will support whatever decision he makes. I expect him to do the same. As far as Martin, it's the same thing. I will support Martin in whatever he wants to do. It's really up to him and his father. If he wants to stay at DEI and thinks that's best for him then I will support him in that."
11:38 -- "She said she wasn't surprised because she had read it all night last night. I think that she is focused on keeping the morale of the employees as high as possible. I think she is focused on doing what she needs to do in hiring a driver and being prepared for 2008. I told her what my decision was and that is was final and she thanked me for what we accomplished up to this point."
11:34 -- "I don't think my fans have to worry about that part of it. I'm disappointed so I expect my fans to be disappointed. Hopefully I can go accomplish the things that I want to accomplish and put on the show that I think I can put on and give my fans more to celebrate. I feel like over the last year or two I've short-changed my fans. I'm hoping to win some races and win some championships to give those guys what they are paying for."
11:29 -- "I've drove for DEI my entire career, there is something to be said for that. There's a great bond there not only with the employees but with my father's vision. I really wanted to have a larger, more personal interest driving at DEI. Through the contract negotiations we were unable to come to terms that would give me that. We danced around that bush for quite a long time."
11:26 -- "There's a lot of logical scenarios that people are going to put together. We've seen a lot of scenarios over the last couple days that were amusing, some bright and some not so bright. I have a great relationship with Richard and I feel like on his behalf he's stepped his programs up."
11:25 -- "I think there's not one team that's going to lay a dollar figure out there that's going to be different than anyone else. Money is not the issue. It's not about the biggest paycheck. The person that allows me to accomplish what I want to accomplish on the race track and in this race shop is what I'm looking at."
11:24 -- "I'm not going to sit down here today and narrow it down before I hear everything that is out there."
11:23 -- "I think DEI can be a successful race team. It may not be the exact thing my father wanted but it can still be successful."
11:22 -- "My father's vision...if he was still here I think we would be in a different place right now."
11:21 -- "I think Max and Teresa worked really hard at something and I think myself and Kelly worked really hard but I don't think we were even close."
11:18 -- "Obviously I feel like his vision and he said it himself was for me to have a huge role in the company itself. Through the negotiations, Kelly and I felt like that was not in the cards. It may be in the cards 20 years down the road, it may be something that happens. From a driver standpoint, for what I want to do and what I want to accomplish, this is something that I had to do."
11:16 -- "We obviously want to do things that compliment JR Motorsports and the Busch team"
11:15 -- "This decision was based solely on my driving career not my personal thoughts on DEI. We still want that company to succeed."
11:13 -- "It's hard to say what's been the hardest part. We've had a lot of great things happen but we've dealt with a lot of tragedies. I was really sad today. It was hard talking to the employees and the team. I told them I want to run as hard as we can this year. I think we owe it to DEI to give our best effort each week and I hope they feel the same way. I don't expect everyone at DEI to understand how we came to this."
11:12 -- "I'll be happy with whatever decision we make. It would be awesome to continue driving the No. 8 but those numbers are owned by the car owners and I'm sure Teresa would love to keep that number at DEI."
11:10 -- "We have a great relationship with Budweiser and those things will be discussed. I enjoy driving Chevrolets and our relationship is very strong and I think I will be best suited driving a Chevrolet."
11:08 -- "I'm split down the middle, I've drove for DEI my entire career and we've done a lot of great things and I believe that company will do a lot of great things. I'm gonna miss a lot of the great relationships and the individuals that work there and they have my full support. the other half of me is very excited about the opportunities that are out there."
11:07 -- "I will say we weren't really close in getting what both sides wanted."
11:06 -- "As for the fans, please know this is a career decision. I want to thank my family members who are here to support me."
11:05 -- "It is important for me that DEI remain successful and to keep my father's legacy alive. It has been a privilege for me to drive for DEI and will continue to be through the rest of this year."
11:03 -- "As far as a team is concerned, we will make that decision at a later date. It depends on what team wants me."
11:03 -- "It is time for me to compete on a consistent basis now"
11:04 -- "Because DEI means so much to me I felt it was important that they come out successfully"
11:02 -- "After a year of intense negotiations we have decided it is time for me to move on"
11:01 -- "We are here today at last about my contract at DEI."
11 a.m. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kelly Earnhardt Ellidge are at the podium