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DEI working on the future
Max Siegel, Bobby Hutchens and John Story are trying to hold Dale Earnhardt Inc. together, rebuild it and find solid sponsorships for 2009 in a dismal economic climate. Siegel heard the rumors that swirled through the Lowe's Motor Speedway garage last weekend, including the one that DEI was on the verge of laying off 80 employees after losing Paul Menard and the John Menard and U.S. Army sponsorships. But Siegel says he's doing his best to put together the sponsorship deals to keep DEI running smoothly. "Since I've been with DEI, we've had to deal with perception issues," said Siegel, a two-year veteran with the operation. "But we've got great people and great facilities. Right now, today, it is an interesting dynamic. If you look at the company and our infrastructure and the people who have been there a long time, and look at how our cars have been running, we have made some impressive gains. Last year people were killing us about our engines, so we've made a concerted effort to focus on our joint engine venture (with fellow owner Richard Childress). And there has definitely been improvement."

"We're running four team cars ‘til the end of the year (with #1-Martin Truex Jr., #01-Regan Smith, #8-Aric Almirola and #15-Menard). And our intent is to run four cars again next year … but we are going to be fiscally responsible So right now any of the deals that are out there, we're trying to put those together. And we're wide-open as to how we can sustain a healthy race program. We have some very resilient people … but it's the end of the year, and everyone is on pins and needles, trying to figure out what the future may bring."

Cutting 80 people? Siegel says he heard the rumors. "That's not our intent, but I was hearing it, too," he said. "Over the last two years, we've done some things and made some investments to strengthen our racing program. Sure, people tend to speculate when you see a sponsor leave." And rivals are not above creating such speculation in order to pluck off key employees. "My heart goes out to all 400 of our employees who work so hard every week," Siegel said. "And I am doing the best I can to sustain a level of confidence in our company and reassure everyone that we are doing everything we can to keep it healthy. And we have no imminent plans to lay off any people or shut down any of our race teams." Winston Salem Journal

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