Teresa Earnhardt had to be pleased with Truex's win

Martin Truex Jr. won a race and you can bet nobody was happier about that than Teresa Earnhardt. Terry Blount blitzes around the motorsports landscape looking for the big stories.

Updated: June 5, 2007, 3:53 PM ET
By Terry Blount | ESPN.com

Too bad Teresa Earnhardt doesn't talk to the media much. She had her chance at an "I told you so" moment Monday at Dover. Other than Martin Truex Jr., the person who must have had the biggest smile was Teresa.

Truex's first Cup victory also was Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s first win in more than a year. Dale Earnhardt Jr., the departing stepson, won at Richmond in May last year. He remains winless in 2007.

Truex's victory proves DEI has equipment capable of competing with the best at a time when the company is undergoing a scary transition with the upcoming loss of Dale Jr.

Some people have wondered if DEI can survive and prosper without Junior. That situation looks a little brighter now.

DEI is the first team to beat Hendrick Motorsports in six Car of Tomorrow events. With the COT racing full-time next season, Monday's victory bodes well for DEI's future.

And Junior would be the first person to tell you he isn't surprised.

"I never really felt like me and crew chief Tony [Eury] Jr. had any trouble being competitive at DEI," Junior said Friday. "The reasons why I left were truly personal and not competition related."

Translation: He left because of Teresa Earnhardt, so it had to be a satisfying moment for her Monday.

How Big was "Little Bill"?
In the three decades that Bill France Jr. ruled NASCAR, only Pete Rozelle would rank higher as a sports league executive.

Rozelle was the NFL commissioner from 1960-89. He was the man responsible for ending a bitter feud in the 1960s between the NFL and the AFL, helping negotiate a merger that brought the rival leagues together.

The Super Bowl was born under Rozelle's watch and the NFL passed baseball as the most popular sport in the country. The NFL rose from No. 2 to No. 1 when Rozelle was commissioner.

But France Jr. may have done more with less when he took over NASCAR from his father in 1972. NASCAR made a much steeper climb under France Jr. It rose from outside the mainstream to consideration as one of the top three sports leagues in the nation.

Starting this weekend at Pocono, NASCAR officials probably will add tribute decals to all the cars in honor of France.

NASCAR also will have some type of prerace tribute Sunday, but the major tribute to France's life probably will come at Daytona before the Pepsi 400 on July 7.

Selling the NHRA
It wasn't a big surprise when the NHRA pro divisions were sold last week. The surprise was that Bruton Smith wasn't the buyer.

Smith, the chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc., has talked about trying to buy the NHRA for years, but NHRA officials always insisted the league wasn't for sale.

Many people involved in the NHRA wanted to see Smith succeed in his pursuit of the league because they felt he would improve the NHRA and increase the awareness of drag racing. Smith owns three tracks on the NHRA circuit: Las Vegas, Sonoma, Calif., and Bristol, Tenn.

HD Partners, a group headed by former DIRECTV president Eddy Hartenstein, bought the pro classes and their assets for $121 million. Smith clearly would have paid more for it, so why did the NHRA agree to the HD Partners deal?

Some of the NHRA hierarchy may have feared losing their jobs if Smith had taken control. Under the HD Partners deal, the key members of the NHRA management team retain their positions.

And in this corner...
Eddie Gossage, president of Texas Motor Speedway and the Don King of auto racing, isn't about to waste this opportunity to hype the IndyCar race at TMS Saturday night (10 ET, ESPN2).

Who's right? Who knows? The point is Patrick stood up for herself and made it clear she's not going to let any driver push her around. She won't be intimidated.

TMS is calling it "Wheldon vs. Danica, Round 2." The Phoenix Firebird vs. The Battlin' Brit. TMS even sent out a tale of the tape, showing both drivers in their firesuits wearing boxing gloves and a giant belt with the TMS emblem.

Gossage is trying to capitalize on the best moment of the IndyCar Series event at Milwaukee on Sunday when Danica Patrick angrily confronted Dan Wheldon after the race. Good for her.

Patrick believed Wheldon should have backed off on the outside when she was making a move past him in a turn before they touched wheels. Patrick got in his face afterward and let him know she didn't appreciate it.

Who's right? Who knows? The point is Patrick stood up for herself and made it clear she's not going to let any driver push her around. She won't be intimidated.

It also was some nice TV drama. It can't hurt the league's popularity if two of its biggest names have a heated rivalry going.

No love lost
Champ Car is back in action this week, racing in Portland on Sunday (4 p.m. ET, ABC) after a ridiculous seven-week layoff. The series has enough problems garnering attention these days without going dormant for almost two months.

Here's what's really shocking. Not a single Champ Car team or regular driver made an effort to race in the Indy 500 during that long layoff. The entire month of May was wide open on the Champ Car calendar, but no one came.

The IndyCar Series didn't exactly open its arms and make it easy for Champ Car teams to participate. Champ Car uses different engines and chassis, so the Champ Car teams needed to purchase cars and lease engines from Honda to race at Indy, a big expense for a one-off event.

But it shows just how deep the animosity is between these leagues when no one on either side made a serious effort to get a few Champ Car teams and drivers in the Indy 500.

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.

Terry Blount

ESPN Seattle Seahawks reporter