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Struggling DEI and Ginn form 4-car team

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by Pete McCole
July 25, 2007

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Bobby Ginn

In an effort to bolster two struggling race franchises, Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and Ginn Racing have announced they have merged their teams, effective immediately, creating a new powerhouse four-car Nextel Cup operation that will debut this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The new merged organization will race under the DEI banner and will combine DEI’s three teams – driven by Martin Truex, Jr., Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Paul Menard – with Ginn’s no. 01 Army Chevrolet, driven by Mark Martin and Aric Almirola.

Ginn’s no. 13 team, previously driven by Joe Nemechek, will cease operations, while Ginn’s no. 14 team – driven by Sterling Marlin – will transfer its 34th -place owner-points to Menard’s team, locking him into a guaranteed spot in Sunday’s Allstate 400.

Teresa Earnhardt, who has been the sole owner of DEI since the death of Dale Earnhardt, Sr. in the 2001 Daytona 500, will continue to own the cars of Truex and Earnhardt, Jr.

Ginn Racing owner Bobby Ginn will continue to own the no. 01 car, as well as Menard’s no. 15 DEI entry.

The merger is seen as an opportunity to rebuild both organizations into solid contenders on the racetrack after a lukewarm season that has seen both teams suffer setbacks.

Ginn Racing has been in operation since being founded in 1996 as MB2 Motorsports. The team posted two victories over the past 11 years with drivers such as Ernie Irvan, Kenny Schrader and Johnny Benson.

In July of 2006, owner Nelson Bowers sold the team to Ginn, a Florida-based real estate developer.

Ginn brought a fresh influx of cash into what was considered a lower-tier operation. Ginn expanded to three teams as well as a Busch Series team, built a new, 180,000 square-foot shop and added personnel and equipment in hopes of turning all three teams into championship-caliber organizations.

Ginn’s biggest coup was landing luring veteran driver Mark Martin from Roush Racing, putting Martin behind the wheel part-time in the no. 01 Ginn Racing entry as well as putting him in charge of the team’s driver-development program.

Ginn Racing started the 2007 season seemingly on the right track, but has since struggled both on and off the track.

After nearly winning the season-opening Daytona 500 – and leading the points for the first few races of the season – the team has only been able to produce four top-five finishes – all by Martin. Poor performance on the track eventually led to sponsorship deals for Marlin and Nemechek’s teams falling through, forcing Ginn to release both drivers.

The team recently announced a restructuring that included layoffs as well as shuttering their third Nextel Cup team as well as their Busch Series operation.

“When I purchased Ginn Racing last year it was done with a goal of fielding a multi-car effort capable of winning races and championships,” said Ginn. “We came very close to winning the season’s biggest race earlier this year with Mark (Martin) and today we feel as if we have done one better by partnering with a company with the legacy of Dale Earnhardt Inc.

“Our performance has been strong, as evidenced by our top-10 position in owner’s points with the 01 car, but we know that having the opportunity to be part of a four-car effort provides significant benefits.”
DEI has had its share of setbacks as well, culminating with Earnhardt, Jr.’s announcement last month that he would leave the team founded by his late father to drive for Hendrick Motorsports in 2008.

Since that announcement, DEI has been making strides to try and move on without Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and revive their program into a championship contender.

“This merger is great for both companies,” said Max Siegel, president of global operations for DEI. “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. This is a win-win relationship in its truest form.”

The combined teams will continue to operate out of their respective shops in Mooresville, N.C. before moving into Ginn’s newly built facility, allowing both teams to take full advantage of their shared resources.

“The combined resources of the companies are tremendous,” said John Story, vice president of motorsports operations for DEI who will oversee the expansion of the company’s racing efforts. “Ginn Racing just completed the installation of a seven-post rig. With our recently formed R&D team, as well as the combined efforts of two strong engineering programs, we will be able to accelerate our learning curve. Both companies have many smart and talented people. All of our teams will undoubtedly become stronger.”

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