I realize the following statement is going to ruffle more than a few feathers, but here it goes: It looks like the No. 3 is back in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series just in time. There, I said it. But why did I say it? I said it because, aside from the presence of his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., the No. 3 is the only reminder fans will have of the late, great Dale Earnhardt on-track in Sprint Cup competition in 2014. That’s because the one other reminder, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, is no more. Well, there is Earnhardt Childress Racing, the engine-building effort between Richard Childress Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc., but is that presence really noticible on the track?
According to reports that began surfacing on Wednesday, Chip Ganassi Racing is back and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing is gone. Of course, the once glorious Dale Earnhardt Inc., aka DEI, as we once new it died a long time ago. Specificially, it faded around late 2008 by merger with Chip Ganassi Racing.
In all reality, even though the new team name contained “Earnhardt,” for all intensive purposes, at least to me, the EGR organization still just seemed like Chip Ganassi Racing under a different moniker. After all, Dale Earnhardt Jr. had long-since packed his bags for Hendrick Motorsports and it wasn’t an Earnhardt who was calling the shots at EGR, it was Chip Ganassi.
“We’ve been operating this way pretty much since day one of the partnership,” Chip Ganassi Racing President Steve Lauletta recently told the Sporting News about Teresa Earnhardt’s influence, or lack thereof, within the company. “We still operate the same way we have for the last five years.”
So, I guess, in a way, Earnhardt’s presence in NASCAR faded with the DEI/CGR merger in December 2008, but at least there was still a name there as a reminder. Now, it looks like that’s all gone, as Ganassi went retro, of sorts, and returned to the old team moniker of Chip Ganassi Racing.
So, maybe it’s good the No. 3′s back, after all.