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INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) Let the bidding begin for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The NASCAR star will announce Thursday morning that he is leaving the Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Nextel Cup team, according to a newspaper report.

The Charlotte Observer on Wednesday reported that Earnhardt will leave DEI but will not be starting a Nextel Cup team at JR Motorsports, a Busch Series team owned by Earnhardt.

Various reports Wednesday night indicated Earnhardt would start his own Cup operation at JR Motorsports, but the Observer, citing sources, refuted those accounts.

Earnhardt will announce his departure from DEI on Thursday at an 11 a.m. EDT press conference at JR Motorsports in Mooresville, North Carolina. He is in the final year of his contract at DEI.

Max Siegel, who was hired late last year as president of global operations for DEI, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Sources told The Observer that the sport's most popular driver will not announce Thursday where he will drive in 2008, but it will not be with a JR Motorsports Cup team.

Earnhardt becomes a racing free agent and the bidding for his services next season will be very high.

Teams expected to show an immediate interest are Richard Childress Racing, the team where his legendary father won six of his seven NASCAR Cup championships, and Hendrick Motorsports.

A source in the NASCAR garage area indicated that "Hendrick is prepared to offer him half the world" but that team has not issued a comment on their interest in the driver that has won 17 Cup races in 265 career starts but has yet to win a season title.

DEI is a team started by his father, Dale Earnhardt, who was killed in a crash on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. Since that time, his stepmother, Teresa Earnhardt, has run the team.
 

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Dale Jr. & Truex to JR Motorsports? press conference at 11am/et UPDATE 2: Dave Moody reported on Wednesday afternoon's Sirius Speedway that rumor has it that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will announce tomorrow [Thurs, May 10th] at JR Motorsports, that both he and #1-Martin Truex, Jr. will drive in the Nextel Cup Series for JR Motorsports in 2008. Hendrick Motorsports will provide engines for the team. A press conference is planned for 11:00am/et at JR Motorsports headquarters per a PR from the team and SPEED will interrupt regularly scheduled programming to go LIVE from the JR Motorsports race shop at 11:00am/et for a news conference with NASCAR Nextel Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.(5-9-2007)
UPDATE: Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR's biggest star, has been in contract negotiations with his current employer, Dale Earnhardt Inc., and is asking for 51% ownership of the team. But the location of the press conference, at JR Motorsports, which Earnhardt Jr. owns separately from DEI, indicates his future plans might not include DEI. Earnhardt Jr., who was at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Wednesday evening for a sponsor appearance, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he planned to talk about "some ideas I've got for the future" but would not elaborate. Officials from DEI did not return phone calls seeking comment. But Earnhardt Jr., answering questions from fans at an event held by his sponsor Budweiser, indicated that his plans for JR Motorsports might not include adding two Nextel Cup cars. He said his main goal in being a team owner is to be able to help young drivers and mechanics advance their careers. "I don't want the company to get too big," he said. "I've got about 70 employees now, and I don't want to get too many more." He also seemed to squelch another persistent rumor — that he was headed to Richard Childress Racing to drive the #3 Chevrolet made famous by his late father. "'I'd like to do it for a year or two at the end of my career, when I'm 50 or 55," he said.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(5-9-2007)
UPDATE 2: Dale Earnhardt Jr. officially will say goodbye to Dale Earnhardt Inc. on Thursday morning. A highly placed source within DEI as well as additional sources familiar with the situation told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday afternoon that both Junior and teammate Martin Truex Jr. will announce Thursday morning that they are leaving the DEI camp at the end of this season and will drive for Earnhardt's heretofore Busch Series operation, JR Motorsports. Sources at Hendrick Motorsports reportedly disavowed knowledge of a pending partnership. Also, various reports have indicated that Earnhardt Jr. will announce his plans to leave DEI, but that he won't necessarily be driving for a JR Motorsports team in association with Hendrick. Sources tell Yahoo! Sports that Earnhardt Jr.'s primary sponsor, Budweiser, will follow Junior to JR Motorsports or wherever he lands. Budweiser's contract with DEI is due to expire at the end of 2008, but Yahoo! Sports sources believe there are provisions within the contract for an early exit if Earnhardt Jr. does not drive the #8 Chevrolet for DEI. There has been no comment thus far from either DEI president Teresa Earnhardt (Dale Jr.'s stepmother) or company director of global operations Max Siegel. Truex's contract with DEI reportedly runs through 2008, though '08 might be only an option year on his deal with the team. It also is possible Truex has an out tied to primary sponsor Bass Pro Shops' future with the DEI. Sources have told Yahoo! Sports that the sponsor has explored moving to a different team after this season.(Yahoo!Sports)(5-10-2007)
 

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rob dimeco reported on fox sports news to look for a relationship with rcr. this was wed. night at 10:30 p.m.
jr. had to leave to win a champ. hendricks would be his best bet. but i don't think their is room. that leaves rcr to go to 4 cars, since jr. won't drive a ford.
who knows?...............
 
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