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Gordon thinks Junior will leave DEI

Gordon thinks Junior will leave DEI

Jeff Gordon believes it will be hard for Dale Earnhardt Jr. to stay with his late father's company because of the public battle between the driver and his stepmother.
Junior is in the final year of his contract at Dale Earnhardt Inc., and negotiations on a new deal recently exposed the difficult relationship he shares with Teresa Earnhardt. She recently questioned his commitment in a Wall Street Journal article, which angered NASCAR's most popular driver.
As the sides now try to pull their contract talks in-house, Gordon said on Wednesday that it may be too late.
"I think that if he's smart, he'll do what's best for him and I hope that's at DEI, I really do," Gordon said during a press event for Hendrick Motorsports. "Is that reality? I think it's gone too far. When it gets ugly in the media, it's usually very, very difficult to rebound from that."
Gordon has enjoyed a long and stable relationship with car owner Rick Hendrick, who signed Gordon in 1992 and eventually rewarded him with a lifetime contract. So he's never had the public contract squabbles that several drivers have had in the past few years.
But no negotiations have been watched as closely as Junior's. He has said he wants some control at DEI, the company founded by his late father, and Teresa said last week that she's willing to discuss it with him.
Whether that's enough remains to be seen, Gordon said.
"I think that you've got a little stubbornness going on there," Gordon said. "Junior is in the seat to be able to write his own ticket, he can do whatever he wants. He can go to any team, he can start his own team, he's got the sponsors who are going to back him, the fans that are going to back him.
"He's really in the power position, and if Teresa is not recognizing that, then shame on her ... if she doesn't recognize that DEI will have a tough time surviving without Junior, I think she's making a big mistake."
On Tuesday, rival driver Kevin Harvick called Teresa "a deadbeat owner," because she very rarely is seen at the race track. Harvick's comments put Junior in the awkward position of having to defend her, and Teresa received more support on Wednesday from Hendrick, who said she shouldn't be judged by the amount of time spent at the track.
"I think people manage different ways, and I think if she's got good people at the racetrack ... it's really her business if she wants to be there or not," Hendrick said. "I know Joe Gibbs, he didn't come much this year, but (son) J.D. (Gibbs) stepped up and did the job. So I sure don't think she deserves any criticism."
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SURPRISING RESULTS: Add Joe Gibbs to the list of people who were stunned by Denny Hamlin's stellar rookie season.
Hamlin surprised the NASCAR community last year by first winning an exhibition race at Daytona, then following with a season-sweep at Pocono Raceway, a spot in the Chase for the championship, and a third-place finish in the final standings.
"That really made no sense," Gibbs said of Hamlin's rookie year. "Honestly, every single thing he's touched _ Denny just seems to have a gift and nobody would have guessed that. We put him in the FedEx car because we decided we were going to put him in just to see what he looked like, and for him to do what he did _ I was blown away."
Gibbs has turned over the day-to-day operations of Joe Gibbs Racing to his son while he coaches the Washington Redskins, but can still make comparisons between NASCAR and the NFL.
"Denny's just real, real talented, he has a gift," Gibbs said. "I think that shows you in this sport that no matter how much you've driven, some guys are gifted. Some guys have an extra _ it's like all sports, all of us want to play quarterback, but then some guys are Mannings."
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MOVING ON?: After 58 years in the town of Level Cross, Petty Enterprises is looking to move.
The Pettys are looking for land closer to Charlotte, which is considered the hub of NASCAR, because being closer to the action would make it easier to attract top personnel.
"I think when you look at race teams now, the bulk of the strength is down there in Charlotte," said team vice president Robbie Loomis, who convinced the Pettys that they needed to leave their 120,000-square-foot (10,800-square-meter) compound.
The team hopes to pinpoint a new location this summer, and be moved within a year.
The current team headquarters is the only home the Pettys have ever known. Richard Petty was born on the property, and he and his father built their cars in the shops there.
"This is home, and it's history, but for progress, you have to go to the next step," Richard Petty said.


Updated : 2021-05-19 02:35 GMT+08:00