June 23, 2011
There's no name more revered in NASCAR than "Earnhardt" (yes, with the possible exception of "Petty"), but even that hallowed name doesn't open all the doors you'd think. That's one message you can take from an interview with Kelly Earnhardt, co-owner of JR Motorsports and sister of Dale. Conducted by Landmark Newspapers' Dustin Long, the interview touched on all the expected subjects, with a few eyebrow-raisers along the way.
For instance, if Danica Patrick does decide to run full-time in the Nationwide Series, that would almost certainly necessitate giving up one of the crown jewels of motorsports: "The Indy 500 runs right in the middle of Charlotte, so, we would definitely want her to contend full-time for the championship, and I think she would too," Kelly Earnhardt said. "That's something she has to decide. If she's going to come over and run, she's going to do all 35 races, not 34."
It's a challenging time to be running a race team, even if your name is Earnhardt, and Kelly Earnhardt notes that the team has to leverage Junior's name to get in sponsorship. Compounding that problem is the unending issue of Cup guys running in Nationwide: "The fact that Cup drivers are still winning every race and doing the same thing in the truck series, it puts a hurting on us," she says. "It's hard to sell against that."
As for her brother? She, like many others, points to new crew chief Steve Letarte as a primary reason for the turnaround. "Steve is going to cheerlead and talk with him and push him without pushing him over the edge," she said. "He's going to be a cheerleader for him. Dale likes that. Dale's a quiet personality and Lance [McGrew, last year's crew chief] was a quiet guy. Two people staying quiet and then blow up on each other doesn't work."
For the full interview, click here.
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