Jeffrey Earnhardt To Make Nationwide Debut At Dover
By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
Concord, N.C. – There may be a bright future for Dale Earnhardt Inc. after all, thanks to a sometimes overlooked branch of the famous family.
Last week at the unveiling of the Walk of Fame in downtown Mooresville, Teresa Earnhardt represented her late husband Dale Earnhardt Sr. and was flanked by her daughter Taylor and step-son Kerry Earnhardt, who is taking an active role in trying to rebuild his father’s company which has been in decline, racing-wise, since his brother Dale Earnhardt Jr. left in 2007 to drive for Hendrick Motorsports.
This weekend, DEI and the Earnhardts hope to take another significant step when Kerry’s 19-year-old son Jeffrey enters the Nationwide Series race at Dover International Speedway. If he makes the race, he’ll be the fourth generation of his family to run in one of NASCAR’s elite divisions, a line that started with the late Ralph Earnhardt.
As he signed autographs on the sidewalk in Mooresville, Kerry talked about his hopes for his son’s future. They’re starting modestly, running a joint effort with journeyman car owner Rick Ware and using some of DEI’s old equipment.
“Rick Ware Racing gave us an opportunity this year,” Kerry Earnhardt said. “We’ve got some equipment at DEI that we’re renewing, getting up to par so we can use our equipment instead.”
Jeffrey has been preparing himself by racing in the Camping World East Series, where he scored a top-five in the circuit’s most recent race, at Iowa Speedway.
Kerry’s not done yet as a driver. He made one Nationwide start this year, at Talladega where he came back from a pit-road penalty to finish 12th.
Looking at the bigger picture, Kerry Earnhardt said he’s optimistic that he and his son can work with his step-mother to rebuild his dad’s old company. Most of DEI’s operations have been merged with Chip Ganassi’s race team, but several aspects of the old DEI remain in place, such as the aviation wing, which is being used as a for-hire service these days.
“We’re doing a lot of things at DEI to try to build the legacy back, things to involve the fans and everybody,” Earnhardt said, adding that he’s hoping to return to the track himself this summer at Daytona.
“We still have the car left from Talladega,” he said. “I’d like to go to Daytona and try to put on a good show there. I m excited about that.”No Comment