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DEI expands to 4 teams following merger with Ginn Racing

DEI expands to 4 teams following merger with Ginn Racing

DEI expands to 4 teams following merger with Ginn Racing
July 24, 2007

Dale Earnhardt Incorporated is absorbing Ginn Racing, making it a four-car team in time for this weekend's race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The deal, set to be announced Wednesday morning, was confirmed to The Associated Press Tuesday night by a person familiar with the deal who requested anonymity because an official announcement had yet to be made.

DEI will immediately add the No. 01 Chevrolet, which is co-driven by Mark Martin and rookie Aric Almirola, and take the season points from Ginn's No. 14 team and apply it to DEI 's No. 15 entry of Paul Menard.

The No. 14 has been driven this season by Sterling Marlin, but the two-time Daytona 500 winner was released from the ride last week as team owner Bobby Ginn reorganized the operation he purchased last summer. Marlin was 29th in the points, which assured that car a spot in the field each week. Menard is 38th, outside of the top 35 that are locked in, and using the points from the No. 14 will now guarantee him a spot in the field.

Ginn will be listed as the owner of both the No. 01 and the No. 15, the source said.

The merger was first reported by

Meanwhile, DEI will continue to run Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 8 and Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 1, both owned by Teresa Earnhardt, Earnhardt's stepmother.

The future of rookie Regan Smith, slated to replace Marlin in the Cup ride, remained uncertain. Smith is still scheduled to drive for Ginn Racing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck race Friday night at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

Ginn, who bought controlling interest in the MB2 Motorsports team last year and changed the name, made sweeping changes last week when he released Marlin and Joe Nemechek. He also shifted Smith, who had been sharing a ride with Martin, to Marlin's car, while saying he would suspend operations on Nemechek's No. 13.

The team also made a deal with Joe Gibbs Racing to hire 23-year-old Almirola, who was part of the Gibbs driver development program, to replace Smith as Martin's co-driver.

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Re: DEI expands to 4 teams following merger with Ginn Racing

If anything deserves a silly season tag it's this. They are gonna have to spend an hour Sunday on the Indy coverage just to try to explain this all to people. I know what is going on and I am still confused  ???

Michael Cash
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Re: DEI expands to 4 teams following merger with Ginn Racing

Turn That Frown Upside Down: DEI / Ginn Merger Has Upside All Around

Last week, the circle-track world was up in arms about the goings-on at Ginn Racing. The former MB2 Motorsports team that shocked the world and showed so much promise by nearly winning the Daytona 500 in February, then going on to lead the points earlier in the year, was suddenly in dire straits. After dismissing long-time veterans and fan-friendly drivers Sterling Marlin and Joe Nemechek due to lack of sponsorship dollars, Ginn found himself having to go on Sirius NASCAR Radio to explain himself. It was a bit of damage control, with Ginn not wanting to appear to be this era’s J.D. Stacy (unscrupulous early 1980’s car owner), after being touted as potentially the next Rick Hendrick of the sport.

Word has it that the DEI/Ginn Racing Merger is well underway, and may be announced as early as today. It is rumored that Mark Martin will drive this weekend under the DEI banner; an irony of sorts, as Earnhardt and Martin stagged some epic battles during the late 1980’s through the 1990’s. The No. 13 owner points look to be transferred to the No. 15 of DEI rookie Paul Menard, who has shown flashes of brilliance in his short Cup career.

While many were ready to light a candle for the Ginn Racing operation a couple of weeks ago, this should turn out to be a move that benefits nearly everyone involved.

Regan Smith had been quite a surprise this year in NASCAR. Not so much in the Cup Series (bringing the car home in one piece at his first two starts at Bristol and Martinsville in April went largely unnoticed), but for his performance in the Busch Series. Being one of the few true Busch Grand National teams on the circuit rather than a Nextel Cup extended-Happy Hour team, Smith had moved to as high as fifth in the points. His Busch team suspended operations two weeks ago, leaving him without a ride for the most part. With Sterling Marlin’s departure, Smith now suddenly had his very own Cup car, an early present that he wasn’t supposed to receive until 2008. Although it is unclear as to what his status is at this time, earlier reports have him in the 14 for the remainder of year.

At the AT&T 250 Busch race at Milwaukee this past June, Aric Almirola was pulled from the car he was driving for Denny Hamlin, who showed up late to the party. Even though he had put the car on the pole and was running solidly in the top 3, the sponsor made the call to yank Aric and replace him with Hamlin. Although Hamlin went on to win the race (with Almirola being credited with 1st), Aric was visibly upset. He said nothing to the media upon his exit, but by doing so said everything he needed to.

Two weeks later it would be announced that he was to team with Mark Martin, splitting time to run the remainder of Martin’s part-time schedule for 2007 and 2008.

JD Gibbs has since said of his release that they didn’t see any room for Aric at Gibbs Racing. With Aric finding himself on the short end of the Gibbs-stick yet again, he’s suddenly been thrust to the pinnacle of motorsports, getting his Cup start driving the car that led the points during the first 1/3 of the season, and is a legitimate Top ten threat each week. Should Kyle Busch take over the reins of the No. 8, he too will be teamed with the one driver who he seems to listen to, respect, and learn from in Martin.

Sterling Marlin had made it clear that he wanted no part of a full-time schedule next year. While Marlin did offer that the “classy” thing to do would be to let him finish the year out at Ginn as his contract stated, he dosen’t have an issue with moving to another team in a few months.

Let’s be honest. Sterling and the No. 14 car haven’t exactly been setting the world on fire, and he hasn’t been a contender to win since Jimmy Spencer used Kurt Busch’s face as a speed bag. The potential arrangement for 2008 has he and his No. 14 owner points going to Furniture Row Racing, so he can run a part-time gig and still attend Mule Day next year. It’s win-win.

Part of making your company attractive as a merger involves cutting out the fat, and with the No. 13 and No. 14 teams running consistently in the back, and for the most part, out of Bobby Ginn’s back pocket, he had little option but to deal away his drivers, close up the Busch shop, and lay off over 30 employees. While it is unfortunate, it is part of the business. The only other option would be for him to continue to fund EVERYTHING himself, while the entire operation would eventually fold up and even more people would be out of a job.

It was a lesser-of-two evils proposition that by most accounts will benefit everyone, with the exception of the team members that were laid off. Then again, this is Mooresville, not Detroit. When you get laid off here, it’s not going to take long to find another job going around in a circle. In North Carolina, hope springs eternal. In Michigan, hope goes to die.

And what of Ginn Racing’s flagship driver Mark Martin? When Martin drove for Roush Racing, there was a Valvoline television commercial showing then crew chief Steve Hmiel stating, “I’m sure that in a previous life, Mark and I were twin brothers.” Reincarnation rears its head, as Martin would be reunited with Hmiel in at least some capacity, as Hmiel currently serves as Technical Director of DEI.

Unbeknownst to many fans today, Martin and Hmiel were the backbone of Roush Racing from it’s inception in late 1987 to Hmiel’s departure following the 1998 campaign. Hmiel originally left Roush Racing for Hendrick Motorsports following the 1993 season, but after two days felt he made “the biggest mistake of my life”, and returned to Roush Racing with Martin. Together the duo won 23 races, and came agonizingly close to winning the Winston Cup in 1989, 1990, and 1997.

If there’s anyone who’s feeling left out in the cold, it’s probably Joe Nemechek, and understandably so. Having been bounced from his ride in the 01 in favor of Martin, Nemechek accepted the challenge of starting a new team on short notice driving the No. 13 Chevrolet. While the car has looked decent at times, it still for the most part has been a back marker, mirroring it’s 33rd place points position. While I’m sure Joe would have preferred a different set of circumstances, he does find himself in the position of at least being able to try and find a ride for 2008, perhaps even yet this year. Last season it was mid-October when Nemecheck learned that he would not be back in the Army car for his new owner. At least now he has a few months to make plans for 2008.

Nemechek has been philosophical about the situation, being a car owner himself in the Busch Series, he recognizes that it was purely a business decision. For some reason, sponsors want young guys with a mop haircut and no experience, as opposed to veterans with stable leadership, proven performance, and rapport with the fans.

And lest you shed a tear for Front Row Joe, take heart; he has earned over $1.6 million so far this year. It isn’t like the guy is living in a cardboard box under a highway overpass. A man with his talent, integrity, and recognition will surely land on his feet, as with almost everyone involved in what looks to be an attractive merger. What at first looked like the tide capsizing an organization, appears to be a rising sea that will float most boats.

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Re: DEI expands to 4 teams following merger with Ginn Racing

DEI and Ginn Racing merge
July 25th, 2007

Mooresville, NC (Sports Network) - Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Ginn Racing merged Wednesday to create a new four-car team.

Effective immediately the new team will feature the Chevrolets of Paul Menard, Martin Truex Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin and Aric Almirola.

Martin and Almirola will combine to drive Ginn's No. 1 Army Chevrolet for the remainder of the 2007 season and into 2008. Menard drives the Menards Chevy, Truex handles the Bass Pro Shops car and Earnhardt is at the controls of the Budweiser Chevrolet -- all originally part of the DEI team.

All four cars are inside the top 35 in Nextel Cup points.

"This merger is great for both our companies," said DEI global operations president Max Siegel. "Our stated goals included an expansion to four cars as quickly as possible and, in order to do that, we had to acquire more shop space. This relationship with Bobby Ginn and his company allows us to accomplish both which makes this a perfect transaction."

The partnership will force Ginn to give up the points on his No. 13 car, which was 34th in the owner standings.

"NASCAR's cap of four teams per company meant we had to give something up," said Ginn. "We felt so strongly about this merger that we surrendered the intangible value of the 13 car. We all were completely comfortable that the benefits of working together far outweighed the value of the points."

DEI's current management team will be responsible for all day-to-day activities.

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Re: DEI expands to 4 teams following merger with Ginn Racing

Ginn saw merger with DEI as a plus
July 25, 2007

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -Bobby Ginn had grand plans to build a contender when he bought a NASCAR team last summer. But he learned rather quickly that winning takes a lot of money, and without solid sponsorships, it's almost impossible to do.
Faced with scaling back his program to a noncompetitive level, Ginn instead merged his organization with Dale Earnhardt Inc. on Wednesday to form a four-car team that will debut this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

``We absolutely would have survived without merging, but what we would have wound up doing is taken on lesser sponsors,'' Ginn told The Associated Press in a Wednesday telephone interview.

``We would have had to continue to cut costs, and that is disgraceful to me. I am proud of the merger. I would not have been proud of putting a car out there that couldn't compete.''

The new deal makes Ginn a partner at DEI, which had been owned outright by the late Dale Earnhardt's widow, Teresa. She remains the majority owner under the merger.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will continue to drive the No. 8 Chevrolet for DEI for the remainder of the season, and Martin Truex Jr. remains in the No. 1 Chevy.

Paul Menard, who has struggled to make races this season in the No. 15 for DEI, will get the owner points from Ginn's No. 14 entry. That car had been driven by Sterling Marlin, who had locked it into the field each week based on owner points. Now Menard is assured a spot in the field.

Ginn driver Mark Martin will now pilot the No. 01 Chevrolet for DEI and split seat time with Aric Almirola. Ginn's third car, the No. 13 that had been driven by Joe Nemechek, has been parked and won't compete under the merger as NASCAR rules limit a single organization to just four entries.

``Teresa is very excited about this merger,'' said Max Siegel, president of global operations at DEI. ``She wakes up every day making sure 400 people have a job doing what they love, and today she has done something that has strengthened her company and positioned it for another 25 years.''

Ginn, who will be listed as the car owner for Martin and Menard at least this weekend, thinks he's done the same. A Florida-based land developer, he made a splash last summer when he bought controlling interest in MB2 Motorsports.

He quickly pumped money into the cash-strapped team and was determined to pull it above its midlevel status and turn it into a contender. Ginn built a new 200,000-sq. foot race shop, bought expensive equipment that only the elite teams have, assembled a deep driver development program and lured Martin away from Roush Racing in a deal that expanded the organization to three Cup teams.

Then the team shocked NASCAR by nearly winning the Daytona 500 - Martin was nipped at the finish by Kevin Harvick, but his strong start to the season made him the points leader through the first four races of the season.

Even though he was on top, Ginn stuck to his word and allowed Martin to keep his plan of running a partial schedule this season. So Martin climbed out of the car at Bristol in March and forfeited the points lead as he turned the wheel over to Regan Smith.

That strong start should have lured big-money sponsors to the organization, but they never materialized and Ginn was forced sponsor Marlin and Nemechek himself with his Ginn Resorts brand.

He stopped doing that in early June, allowing the two cars to run with plain black paint schemes - Martin's car is sponsored by the U.S. Army - and he was forced to let employees go as they scaled back operations.

``We were forced with either having to cut expenses or keep running the cars,'' he said. ``And when I cut expenses, I noticed our performance level was going down. That really weighed on my mind.''

Convinced that merging teams is the way of the future in NASCAR, Ginn set out to find a partner that would help create one fully funded super team.

Ginn found it in DEI, which has been trying to move back into elite status after several lean years following Earnhardt's 2001 death. The team took another hit in May when Earnhardt Jr. said he would leave at the end of the season - he's going to Hendrick Motorsports, based partly on a poor relationship with Teresa Earnhardt and partly on his belief that DEI isn't in position to win championships.

DEI has made strides since that May 10 announcement, focusing on building the team and preparing for a future without Earnhardt Jr. Siegel said Ginn was the perfect opportunity.

Ginn's shop is just four miles away from DEI, and will immediately house Martin and Menard's teams. Earnhardt and Truex will move into the building if they are eliminated from Chase contention, or when the season ends. DEI's existing facility will be used for the Busch and driver development programs.

DEI officials and Ginn will spend the next several weeks merging the personnel from both companies, and it's not clear who will make the cut. Smith, who has shared seat time with Martin this season but was expected to get a Cup ride of his own with Ginn, is now in limbo. He's entered in Friday night's Truck race in Indianapolis for Ginn, with nothing else immediately announced on his schedule.

Ginn said letting employees go - particularly Marlin and Nemechek - is the hardest part of the merger. But he's convinced it's for the best for both companies.

``I look at this like I may have sacrificed some ownership, and it doesn't have my name on it, but at the end of the day I have bettered everybody for doing this,'' Ginn said. ``Even if the sponsors had come in, we probably would be talking about something like this anyway. This is just going to be the way teams operate going forward, and we needed to be invited to the party before it was too late.''

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