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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Jr. may follow his dad's path to Cup team ownership

As rumors spread Monday about the future of the 5 car, one interesting possibility came about. It’s possible Mark Martin will split time in the car next year with Rochester Hills native Brad Keselowski, who currently drives for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the Nationwide series.

This would be the natural lead-in to a full-time Cup ride at Hendrick in that 5 car for Keselowski for the 2010 season. It makes sense, as the Oakland County native has shown he has the goods to compete with the big boys, regularly finishing ahead of the many Cup ringers moonlighting in the Nationwide series and staying in contention for the Nationwide title.

What’s most interesting to me is the path this sets up for Jr., who is following a path very similar to the one his father took in bringing DEI to Cup. Dale Sr. drove for Richard Childress for many years, learning from Childress how to run a team. Then, later in his career, after winning all of his titles and owning cars in the lower series, he began running DEI at the Cup level while still driving for Childress. He had learned enough, and the success he achieved as DEI owner was the proof of that … On the day he died, his drivers finished one-two at Daytona.

Right now, Jr.'s focus in Cup needs to be on winning a title. He has enormous pressure on him to win it, and running a Cup team would take away his focus. If he is able to take home a Cup title in the next two or three years, I see him bringing his JR Motorsports to the Cup series, probably using his protégé Keselowski as his first driver, assuming Hendrick is OK with the almost in-house move.

Succeeding while driving for your own team has proven difficult in recent years, so I suspect Jr. will take another play from his dad’s book and spend many years driving for Hendrick, while operating his team on the side. And Jr.’s team would obviously get a lot of help from the Hendrick organization, so it would basically create a new superteam with as many as eight drivers who could help each other get better each week.

Maybe I’m wrong, and Jr. believes he has learned enough from Rick Hendrick to bring his team up to the Cup series as soon as next year. It may be tempting, as I’m sure plenty of sponsors would want to be part of a team owned by Jr., and he could make a good chunk of change.

But it’s hard to find a better teacher than Dale Earnhardt when it comes to achieving success in NASCAR, so I bet he follows his dad’s path and doesn’t make the move for a few years, until he’s had some time to focus on competing.


Anonymous wsr1 said...

You forgot 1 thing, He's got Kelly!

June 24, 2008 at 12:50 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forgot 1 thing, He's got Kelly!

June 24, 2008 at 12:54 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jr. has already said this due to the change in the Nationwide cars next year! Catch up! Plus that he has Tony Sr., Kelly and his Mom Brenda. Jr. has already proven himself as an owner, is everyone forgetting he the one how found Martin Truex Jr, a helped him to 2 Championships!

June 24, 2008 at 3:23 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jr. has already merged his Busch (nationwide) team with Hendrick Motorsports. So, Jr.'s ownership of a cup team would not be the same thing.

DEI was owned by Dale and Teresa Earnhardt and was never part of, or funded by, Richard Childress racing.

BTW, for the other poster, Martin Truex was employed by Chance2 Motorsports which was a joint effort of Jr. and Teresa Earnhardt.

June 24, 2008 at 5:08 PM 

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