Ginn says contracts for Marlin, Nemechek, two crew chiefs have been honored

9/11/2007 - NASCAR

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Bobby Ginn said Tuesday he's surprised by
a lawsuit that claims he hasn't honored the contracts for Sterling Marlin, Joe Nemechek and two crew chiefs.

All four lost their jobs when Ginn Racing merged with Dale
Earnhardt Inc. in late July. The four filed separate lawsuits
against both teams last week in Cabarrus County, claiming they are
owed their salaries.

The suits don't specify what the parties are seeking, but claim
they have demanded payment, and the teams have either failed or
refused to comply.

"Sterling and Joe's contracts ran through the end of the year,
and I have paid them through August -- all of their winnings and
salary, per the contract," Ginn said. "And I intend to pay
through the end of the year. I always have."

Ginn said that crew chiefs Richard "Slugger" Labbe and Peter
Sospenzo were given severance packages when they were let go, and
said he's honored it and payments are up to date.

"This totally surprised me, and it looks to me like they are
trying to ask for something over and above and they are just not
entitled to," Ginn said.

Marlin did not return a telephone message Tuesday, while
Nemechek and the crew chiefs could not be reached.

DEI, also named in the suit, said it was never a party to the
contracts in question and the obligation to honor the agreements
falls on Ginn.

Ginn, a Florida-based land developer, bought the race team last
summer and merged it with DEI in late July. A week before the
merger, he released Marlin, a two-time Daytona 500 winner, and
Nemechek. The crew chiefs lost their jobs when the companies
combined their work forces.

According to the suit, both drivers were due to make $1.2
million this season, and were promised 45 percent of their race
winnings and 33 percent of souvenir sales. Nemechek earned more
than $4 million in race winnings last season, while Marlin made
$3.2 million.

Labbe, the crew chief for Marlin, and Sospenzo, crew chief for
Nemechek, were earning $450,000 annual salaries.

Nemechek had raced three times since he lost his ride, while
Marlin failed to make the race at Bristol last month. Labbe has
been hired at Bill Davis Racing, where he is working with former
Formula One champion Jacques Villeneuve. It's not clear what
Sospenzo is doing.

But Ginn
was adamant that he is honoring his obligations.

"At the end of the day, I am going to do what I said I would
do," Ginn said. "These guys are all racers and they want to race
and be back at the track. I know a lot of people were let go and
lost their jobs in this whole merger, but lots of them have already
found positions. That's the unfortunate part of a merger, but it is
correcting itself."