Junior spurns Gossage's offer to ride in Texas IndyCar race
Updated: May 3, 2008, 7:09 PM ETBy David Newton | ESPN.com
RICHMOND, Va. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. laughed at Eddie Gossage's offer of $100,000 to drive in the IndyCar series race at Texas Motor Speedway on June 7."Well, he thinks I'm a cheap date, I guess,'' NASCAR's most popular driver said before Friday's Sprint Cup qualifying at Richmond International Raceway.
Even if the TMS president upped his offer, Earnhardt didn't appear interested."My conscious wouldn't let me,'' said Earnhardt, worth more than $20 million a year according to Forbes Magazine.Replied Gossage, "But did he say no? The way I see it the door is still open. We'll work on it. I'm open to negotiations." Gossage made the offer, his latest in a series of publicity stunts involving Earnhardt, after IRL driver Danica Patrick went on Earnhardt's Thursday night XM Satellite Radio show and said "if he ever wanted to swap cars and run in an open-wheel race, Texas would be the place to give it a shot."
Todd Warshaw/Getty ImagesDale Earnhardt Jr., standing on the qualifying grid at Richmond Friday, scoffed at the Eddie Gossage offer of 100K to run TMS' IndyCar race.
Gossage said the offer was not a publicity stunt to sell tickets, that he might increase it to $125,000."Obviously, he's interested or he wouldn't have brought it up,'' Gossage said. Earnhardt didn't exactly bring it up. He simply was responding to a question during his hauler chat.
That Gossage would put the onus on him doesn't come as a surprise to the son of seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt."I know his intentions well,'' Earnhardt said. "We had that discussion with the billboard thing. I totally understand what his approach to advertising is now."
Earnhardt was referring to Gossage's publicity effort to help fill the stands for the April Cup race. He put up a series of billboards for why fans should buy tickets. The one involving Earnhardt said, "Reason #88: Step-Mom," taking a shot at Earnhardt's tumultuous relationship with stepmother Teresa Earnhardt.The billboard drew objections by Earnhardt's sister and business manager, Kelley Earnhardt Elledge. Gossage changed it to say, "Reason #88: New Car Smell."
Earnhardt said Gossage would have gotten more mileage out of his latest stunt when a reporter suggested $5 million to $10 million should have been offered. "He' s kind of like Austin Powers' Dr. Evil," Earnhardt said of the fictional character in a series of comedy movies. "His first estimate of holding the world ransom [for $1 million] was a little underfigured." Gossage doesn't know about that, but he jokingly said Earnhardt isn't worth $5 million .
Regardless, Gossage still is willing to talk."I'm serious,'' he said. "I'm waiting on him to call me."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.