2007 Team Preview: DEI

2007 Team Preview: DEI

2007 Team Preview: DEI

Pete Pistone
Managing Editor

The more the merrier is the motto of DEI in 2007.

The team will grow to a three-car NEXTEL Cup Series effort with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Martin Truex, Jr. joined by Paul Menard, who graduates from the team's Busch Series program.

But with the start of the season on the horizon, Earnhardt, Jr.'s contract negotiations continue to be the focal point for the team.

Earnhardt, Jr., who will see his DEI contract expire after the 2007 season, remains optimistic something will get done in short order.

"We look forward to negotiating and hope to have something in the next couple of months and put this to bed," Earnhardt, Jr. said. "We've spoken briefly, but I really don't feel like there's a need for any in-depth conversation tonight about it. We're just focused on next year and winning races."

After a dismal 2005 season, which saw Earnhardt, Jr. miss the "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup," The No. 8 Budweiser team rebounded nicely last year. Earnhardt, Jr., reunited with crew chief Tony Eury, Jr., snapped a 27 race winless streak with a victory at Richmond and made the "Chase," finishing a solid fifth in the point standings.

“I feel like we're very capable of winning the championship,” Earnhardt, Jr. said. “I feel like I know more each year in and out about what to do to win the championship and how to better position myself to make the Chase and do those type of things. Each year you learn more about that. I have to minimize my mistakes. It's really hard as a human being to do that, but you've just got to really, really try, just to be perfect as a driver, not to make mistakes on the racetrack.”

Truex, Jr.'s rookie NEXTEL Cup season was impressive with the freshman finishing 19th in the final standings. Truex, Jr. started to gain some momentum as the season wound down and hopes to bring that with him into the 2007 campaign.

“We feel we’ve come a long way” Truex said. “We’ve learned a lot. We feel we can contend for wins this year. It’s a good feeling going into the season.”

Menard moves up to NASCAR's top division after a solid Busch Series campaign that saw the Wisconsin native score a popular win at the Milwaukee Mile.

Menard will now try to pick-up this year's NEXTEL Cup Series rookie title and is excited about the opportunity.

"This is what I've been working for my racing career," Menard said. "I want to race at the top level and with the team we have, I think we can all succeed. I'm really looking forward to it."

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