Dale Jr.'s sister not yet convinced deal will happen
MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, sister, business manager and chief negotiator for Dale Earnhardt Jr., isn't yet convinced a contract extension with the company their father founded is on the horizon for NASCAR's biggest star.
It's not that talks are going badly. But many variables exist -- and time is precious.
"I don't know if we'll get there," Elledge said of an extension. "It's hard. When you start talking about the piece of ownership for Dale in [Dale Earnhardt, Inc.], that's part of my business, too. That's part of [half-brother] Kerry's business. That's part of [half-sister] Taylor's business.
"There's a whole lot of dynamics that play into it all."
Two variables, in particular, are crucial to Earnhardt's desire for a majority stake in ownership of DEI.
"One is the family piece," Elledge explained. "Obviously our dad started [DEI] to field race cars, and all intentions of [Dale Jr.] being a part of that, and the rest of us being a part of it, in terms of my other brothers and sisters.
"But I think the biggest reason we want a piece of DEI is for control of [Dale Jr.'s] brand, and where it's going. They can all coexist -- the whole Earnahrdt family -- as one big brand. And there's several brands underneath it."
Elledge said she and Dale Jr. feel DEI has done a good job maintaining their father's brand, but that Dale Jr. has an entirely different brand that they want to control and mesh into the overall Earnhardt brand.
She said the entrance of new DEI President Max Siegel into the equation has helped tremendously, and is a bright spot that makes her believe an extension is indeed feasible.
"With Max coming onboard, that's something I can foresee in the long run," Elledge said. "At this point, we don't have a lot of time so we're trying to work really hard to make something of it.
"We met last week. I usually talk to Max at least once a day, if only to say 'Hi.' We're keeping in touch and bouncing ideas off each other, because we really are trying to discuss all options."
Elledge admitted, though, that this is not an easy time to be renegotiating.
"You've got a new guy on board who's trying to get the ship turned in the right direction, and you still have Teresa there who's trusting this new person, and she's not had anybody in there for a while and things have kind of fell down.
"So there's a rebuilding going on. It's a bad time to try to renegotiate a contract. You've got the old still sticking there, and this new on the horizon that could be really good, and you're trying to make sense of it all. We'll see if we can get there."
Marty Smith covers Nextel Cup racing for ESPN.com.