Friday, April 20, 2007

Junior won't confirm DEI majority ownership offer

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- If contract negotiations between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and DEI have resulted in a tentative agreement to give Junior a majority interest in the company, he's not telling.

Following his run in Thursday's Nextel Cup qualifying at Phoenix International Raceway, Junior was asked if he could confirm that the two sides had tentatively agreed to give him 51 percent ownership in DEI.

"No, I can't," Earnhardt said. "If that was the case, I'd know about it."

Earnhardt's sister, Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, is acting as his advisor in negotiations. DEI, currently owned by Teresa Earnhardt, is being represented at the bargaining table by president of global operations Max Siegel. Both sides have stated they would like to come to an agreement no later than June 1.

Despite undergoing surgery on March 23 to have a growth removed from her pancreas, Elledge -- president of JR Motorsports -- has remained in constant communication with Siegel.

Junior said he believed progress is being made.

"Things were better yesterday than the day before and over the last couple of weeks," he said. "We're just moving along with the negotiations."

So would he agree to a deal if the 51 percent ownership figure becomes a reality?

"I don't want to get hypothetical," Junior replied. "That's a long ways down the road. We've still got some things in the contract to work out."

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