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DEI, Ginn Racing Complete Merger


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A little more than two months ago, fledgling but ambitious Nextel Cup team owner Bobby Ginn made a public play to add driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. On Wednesday, Earnhardt Jr.'s organization added Ginn.


Dale Earnhardt Inc. absorbed Ginn Racing, creating a four-car operation that will compete under the DEI banner this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Effective immediately, DEI drivers Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. will be joined by Mark Martin and Aric Almirola, who will split the remainder of this year in the No. 01 car. DEI driver Paul Menard will inherit the owner points of former Ginn driver Sterling Marlin, whose car was inside the top 35, while the No. 13 formerly piloted by Ginn driver Joe Nemechek will be eliminated.


"This merger is great for both companies," DEI president Max Siegel said in a statement. "Our stated goals included an expansion to four cars as quickly as possible and, in order to do that, we had to acquire more shop space. This relationship with Bobby Ginn and his company allows us to accomplish both, which makes this a perfect transaction."


The team will operate from both the DEI shop in Mooresville, N.C., and the 180,000-square-foot-facility housing the Ginn organization. The two buildings are less than five miles apart. DEI will also acquire Ginn's seven-post machine. John Story, DEI's vice president of motorsports operations, will oversee the expansion efforts.


"The combined resources of the companies are tremendous," Story said. "Ginn Racing just completed the installation of a seven-post rig. With our recently formed R&D team, as well as the combined efforts of two strong engineering programs, we will be able to accelerate our learning curve. Both companies have many smart and talented people. All of our teams will undoubtedly become stronger."


Regan Smith, who had been splitting the No. 01 with Martin, was scheduled to move into the No. 14 car full-time beginning this week. Instead, he will compete in a Craftsman Truck Series race at O'Reilly Raceway Park. The full schedules for Smith, Martin and Almirola will be determined later. The company will also continue to field entries on NASCAR's Busch and Busch East circuits, the latter where Ginn developmental driver Jesus Hernandez, a Drive for Diversity graduate, competes.


Ginn also fields late models for Ricky Carmichael, the motocross champion attempting to make the transition to stock cars. NASCAR.COM has learned that Martin will continue to aid Carmichael's development, and that his stock-car schedule will be increased beginning this weekend with events Friday at Orlando, Fla., and Saturday at New Smyrna Beach, Fla. Sponsor Monster Energy will remain on Carmichael's car.


"When I purchased Ginn Racing last year, it was done with a goal of fielding a multi-car effort capable of winning races and championships," Ginn said. "We came very close to winning the season's biggest race earlier this year with Mark, and today we feel as if we have done one better by partnering with a company with the legacy of Dale Earnhardt Inc. Our performance has been strong, as evidenced by our top-10 position in owner's points with the 01 car, but we know that having the opportunity to be part of a four-car effort provides significant benefits."


Sponsorship is what ultimately doomed Ginn's Nextel Cup aspirations. The Florida developer entered the sport late last year with big plans, hiring 75 new people and investing millions in new equipment as he tried to build his team into a contender. He even made a run at Earnhardt Jr., who is leaving DEI after this season, and eventually agreed to a five-year deal with juggernaut Hendrick Motorsports beginning in 2008.


Everything seemed golden on the first weekend of the season, when Martin's car nearly won the Daytona 500. But the vehicles of Nemechek and Marlin failed to find full-season sponsorship, resulting in layoffs, the elimination of the Busch team, and ultimately Wednesday's merger.


"It's another indication of how expensive the sport is. This guy came on with a lot of bravado when he jumped in, and was trying to say I'm just as good for Dale Jr. as Hendrick or Roush or Childress, and all of the sudden he's jumping out, basically," said Max Muhleman, a pioneering motorsports consultant based in Charlotte, N.C. "There's no doubt you'd like to be in it, but it's extremely expensive, and he probably made a very good business decision. He'll probably be able to keep a hand in it if he wants to, a lot like Felix Sabates does."


Sabates, who once owned his own race team, is now minority owner of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR organization. Although management at DEI will oversee day-to-day activities of the expanded team, the complete ownership hierarchy -- general manager Jay Frye owned a stake in the Ginn team along with Bobby Ginn -- was not explained in Wednesday's release. Executives at Ginn and DEI did not immediately return interview requests. The principals are scheduled to meet with the media Thursday at Indianapolis, site of Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.


"Teresa and Bobby have discussed some very high level strategies concerning her development objectives and who would be better to partner with than Bobby? This is a win-win relationship in its truest form," Siegel said.


The merger also makes teammates out of Earnhardt Jr. and Martin, two of the sport's most popular drivers, at least for the remainder of this year.


"The value of additional square footage is easy to see, but the value that Mark will bring to our company is harder to measure and may be even more impactful," Siegel said. "Mark has pledged his complete support to our young drivers and our entire company in an effort to make us all better. Given his stature in the sport, this type of benefit cannot be quantified."



I'm not happy at all about this.

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The writing was definately on the wall after Marlin was released a few weeks ago. I think this makes a lot of sense for both sides and DEI continues to build steam after the the annoucement of Dale Jr. that he was leaving. Now it needs to translate to wins and championships...

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Definitely makes a lot of sense for both teams especially if they can reel in Newman or Busch. The big team thing does kind of worry me in Nascar. I guess its ok. I dunno. Every big team is going to have 4 cars in one or two years. Kind of kills the underdog thing. But then again when's the last time a true underdog (single car team) really won?

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