- Marty Smith, ESPN
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- If Dale Earnhardt Jr. opts to leave Dale Earnhardt, Inc. at the conclusion of the 2007 Nextel Cup season, his crew chief will follow suit.
Tony Eury Jr., Earnhardt's crew chief and first cousin, told ESPN.com on Sunday that if Junior goes, he'll go, too.
"Yes, [I'd go]," Eury responded when asked if he'd follow Earnhardt to a new race team.
"That's the way I based my feelings when I decided to stay there and sign a long-term contract. I made it very specific to them that if 2007 comes and Dale Jr. decided to do something else, I'd like to have my options open to do whatever I want to do."
Ultimately, though, Eury hopes Dale Jr. stays put.
"The best thing is to stay at DEI," Eury said. "DEI is his Dad's deal. [Junior] should be running the company. That's what Dale Sr. built the company for, was for those kids to have something later on in life.
"However it turns out, it turns out. I really don't want to get into the politics side of it with them, so I just let them handle it and we'll figure it out from there."
Earnhardt said on Feb. 8 he must get majority ownership of DEI in order to remain with the company his father founded.
Eury said he's uncertain where the contract negotiation stands. He's staying out of it.
"I just told Junior for him and Kelley [Earnhardt Elledge] to figure out whatever they want to do -- stay or go," Eury said. "I hope he stays, but if they can't get things worked out, that's fine, we'll just figure out what's best for all of us."
Marty Smith is a contributor to ESPN's NASCAR coverage. He can be reached at ESPNsider@aol.com.