Sports Outside the Beltway

Can DEI Stay Competitive?

It is odd to think that Dale Jr. will not be driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI) next season, but looking past that will the infamous company built by legend Dale Earnhardt be competitive next season?

Morale is solid at DEI, the company Dale Earnhardt and his wife, Teresa, formed in February 1980. Some there believe that once the smoke clears, once things get settled, a more powerful company very well could emerge.

After all, this is a company that remained strong after Earnhardt’s death at the 2001 Daytona 500.

“It’s good, it’s good,” said Steve Hmiel, technical director at DEI, when asked about the morale at DEI since Dale Jr. made his announcement. “It’s frustrating because … I have to be careful, because I’m going to say something wrong.

“There’s a company there that has fed people’s families and bought ‘em cars and given a real nice place to work and gave them insurance and what have you for a long time. That thing made it through February of 2001, and it’s going to make it through all the rest of Februaries that Teresa wants it to make it through. And Teresa wants it to go on forever, as Dale Sr. did.

It seems that the company is making a major step to be competitive by join up with Richard Childress Racing to build engines. The question though many want answered is will #8 be given to Dale Jr. or will another person fill the #8 car.

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