DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a DEI fan, but I will refrain from bashing. If you perceive something as negative, deal with it. If you perceive it as inflammatory, that was not my intent. I have given a great deal of thought to the subject of DEI's future. I have read several news articles, and have even delved into the nefarious world of fan posts on message boards on the topic. As a race fan of more than 30 years, here is my humble opinion of what will happen there. Dale Earnhardt was many things. Besides a talented racer, though, he was a shrewd businessman with a keen insight as to the future of NASCAR. He realized that the real money was in owning a race team. Getting that team on the Winner Circle program meant huge financial rewards. That is why he chose to block and have the car he owned up front at Daytona rather than the one he drove. Sadly, it cost him his life. Dale had been with Childress for many years with Goodwrench as the sponsor. Over that time he had surpassed driver status and had become an icon. Dale kept his sponsor happy. Even early on, he made sure that if he wasn't winning a race then he was on the TV for something else, like spinning someone out. He made sure he was newsworthy. Sponsors like the car on TV. Over time, this evolved into The Intimidator, and mass merchandising and marketing ensued. Simply put, the man put butts in seats and was instrumental in the phenomenal growth of the sport. You loved him or you hated him, and he made damn sure that stayed the case. Brilliant. Now, stop for one second and imagine the fan outrage if Goodwrench decided to pull sponsorship for whatever reason. There would have been a riot. Dale had his sponsor by the short hairs, instead of having to bend to their notions. And don't think for a second he didn't know it. Fast forward to the current season. No more Dale. He built DEI and was certainly instrumental in obtaining the sponsors those cars have. Pennzoil - good sponsor. NAPA - appears to be getting more than their feet wet in the sport. And Budweiser - arguably the most coveted sponsor in the sport. Now Dale is not there. More importantly to this discussion, his DRAWING POWER is not there. Theresa Earnhardt doesn't have a snowball's chance in a skillet of retaining sponsors of that calibur. Bud will stay because they are making a mint off of Junior, whether he wins a race or not. But NAPA and Pennzoil are not as solid. And Theresa can't keep them. The on track performance can't keep them. NAPA has a couple of wins, Pennzoil has a body shop bill. Where does this leave DEI? Potentially holding a multi-million dollar bag. For the sake of discussion, let us assume their fortunes hold the status quo for two more seasons. IF Pennzoil departs for, let us say, a Greg Biffle, and NAPA decides to go with, say, the 27th Roush team (lol), who foots the bills? Theresa won't be able to get the dollars that Dale did. Now, let us make one more leap of faith. Junior, over that same hypothetical two year span, has performed as he has been...a threat to win a handful of races, a 10-15 finisher half the time, and 35 or worse the rest. (I know that may not be 100% accurate, but I do not care to look up the actual stats. It's close enough.) NASCAR needs its golden boy to sell seats, commercials, tshirts, key rings, condoms, whatever. What better scenario than Junior folding a financially struggling DEI and signing with RCR to drive a black 3 with Goodwrench on the side? The beer sotted masses are orgasmic in their overwhelming joy, NASCAR has the best marketing tool in the history of organized sports, Theresa gets to quit fooling with it and go shopping again, and Ty Norris becomes a trivia answer. Plus a couple of sponsorships are suddenly floating around for a second echelon team to latch onto. Maybe I am wrong about some of this, but I think I'm pretty close. I would love to hear some of your opinions on this. The situation I described is certainly feasible. Again, if a comment offended your fan-biased feelings, hate it for ya. Didn't mean to...had I intended to bash Junior, you woulda known it. Let's keep any replies topical and nonpersonal please, but I wanna know what the fans think.