DEI expands to 4 teams following merger with Ginn Racing

7-24-07 -- Dale Earnhardt Incorporated is absorbing Ginn Racing, making it a four-car team in time for this weekend's race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The deal, set to be announced Wednesday morning, was confirmed to The Associated Press Tuesday night by a person familiar with the deal who requested anonymity because an official announcement had yet to be made.

DEI will immediately add the No. 01 Chevrolet, which is co-driven by Mark Martin and rookie Aric Almirola, and take the season points from Ginn's No. 14 team and apply it to DEI 's No. 15 entry of Paul Menard.

The No. 14 has been driven this season by Sterling Marlin, but the two-time Daytona 500 winner was released from the ride last week as team owner Bobby Ginn reorganized the operation he purchased last summer. Marlin was 29th in the points, which assured that car a spot in the field each week. Menard is 38th, outside of the top 35 that are locked in, and using the points from the No. 14 will now guarantee him a spot in the field.

Ginn will be listed as the owner of both the No. 01 and the No. 15, the source said.

The merger was first reported by ESPN.com.

Meanwhile, DEI will continue to run Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 8 and Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 1, both owned by Teresa Earnhardt, Earnhardt's stepmother.

The future of rookie Regan Smith, slated to replace Marlin in the Cup ride, remained uncertain. Smith is still scheduled to drive for Ginn Racing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck race Friday night at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

Ginn, who bought controlling interest in the MB2 Motorsports team last year and changed the name, made sweeping changes last week when he released Marlin and Joe Nemechek. He also shifted Smith, who had been sharing a ride with Martin, to Marlin's car, while saying he would suspend operations on Nemechek's No. 13.

The team also made a deal with Joe Gibbs Racing to hire 23-year-old Almirola, who was part of the Gibbs driver development program, to replace Smith as Martin's co-driver.


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