CHARLOTTE, N.C. óDale Earnhardt Jr. will drive a Chevrolet next season, that much he's made clear. Just who he'll be driving for may finally be answered.
Earnhardt called a Thursday morning news conference amid speculation he would announce he's leaving Dale Earnhardt Inc., the company founded by his late father and now run by his stepmother, Teresa.
He released no details, and when approached at a Wednesday evening sponsor event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Earnhardt told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he planned to "talk about some ideas I've got for the future" but would not elaborate.
Most everyone in NASCAR has followed the twists and turns of Earnhardt's contract talks, which have been somewhat contentious as he and his sister have fought for control of DEI. His deal is up at the end of the season, and he's asked for 51 percent ownership be included in the extension.
As NASCAR's most popular driver, Earnhardt holds all the cards and can dictate what he wants to do. With sponsor Budweiser willing to follow him anywhere, leaving DEI would create a bidding war between every car owner in the garage.
But Earnhardt has made it clear he wants to be in a Chevrolet, where the relationship is every bit as strong as the alliance he has with Bud.
"Why would I leave Chevrolet?" he asked Monday. "I like Chevys. Me and those guys got a good relationship."
That loyalty could limit his options.
It's possible that Earnhardt will field his own Nextel Cup team from JR Motorsports, where he runs a Busch Series program and several late model cars out of a brand new shop in Mooresville.