DEI, RCR merge engine programs

Dale Earnhardt Inc. has merged its engine program with Richard Childress Racing, an alliance that likely will help DEI return to prominence.

DEI has been in a slow decline since Dale Earnhardt’s 2001 death, and star driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. is leaving at the end of the season because he doesn’t think he can win championships at DEI.

His stepmother, Teresa Earnhardt, hopes that merging engine programs with RCR will strengthen the organization.

“This backs up what Teresa said last week — her commitment is solid, and her No. 1 priority is to win championships,” John Story, general manager of DEI, said Friday. “This is the first of a few big things we are going to do to continue moving toward that goal of winning championships.”

DEI officials believe the merger shows the team is resilient and will move on without Earnhardt Jr.

“When you get knocked down like we did the last week and a half, you come back fighting,” said Richie Gilmore, director of motorsports.

“We wish Dale Jr. all the luck in the world. But we have to take our company to the front and take it to the point of winning championships. We don’t want to back up on our goals at all.”