Larger role possible for Junior at DEI


CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Teresa Earnhardt is willing to discuss a
larger role at Dale Earnhardt Inc. with stepson Dale Earnhardt Jr.
as part of the ongoing contract negotiations to keep him at his
late father's company.

"We are moving full speed ahead with negotiations, moving ahead
as we normally would," Teresa Earnhardt said Thursday night in a
telephone interview from Los Angeles, where she was promoting the
documentary "Dale."

Asked if she was committed to keeping Junior behind the wheel of
the No. 8 Chevrolet, she didn't waver. "Absolutely."

Junior's contract expires at the end of this season, and his
status with the company has been in question since Teresa Earnhardt
seemingly questioned his commitment in a December article in The
Wall Street Journal.

"Right now the ball's in his court to decide on whether he
wants to be a NASCAR driver or whether he wants to be a public
personality," she said in the Dec. 14 story.

The remark angered Junior, who said at preseason testing last
week that the two had not spoken since the quote was published
because "I figured if anything needed to be said, she'd call me up
and say it."

Teresa Earnhardt indicated the two have since spoken but seemed
fuzzy on when the conversation occurred.

"I don't know, it has just been a short while ago," she said.
"We talk."

Junior said last week his relationship with his stepmother would
factor into his decision to re-sign with DEI, and he also hoped to
get an ownership stake in the company. But he said Teresa had
skipped the most recent round of negotiations, sending
representatives to the bargaining table to meet with Junior and his
sister, Kelley Earnhardt Elledge.

Teresa Earnhardt said Thursday there's been nothing unusual
about these extension talks.

"It's all been very typical," she said. "We're moving
forward, discussing everything and trying to get this done."