Paul Menard will leave Dale Earnhardt, Inc. to drive for Yates Racing next season. That announcement was made earlier today, ending a multi-week bidding war between DEI and Yates for the young driver’s services.
Menard said of his new team, “Look at what Doug (Yates) and the Ford Motor Company have done in this sport. They’ve created a lot of horsepower and hoisted quite a few trophies over the years. I’d like to help continue that for both of them.”
Menard’s car number and crew assignments were not announced today.
Menard’s move almost certainly makes DEI a single-car team next season, with only Martin Truex Jr.’s Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats team expected to return. The #15 car's Menards sponsorship will move to Yates Racing in 2009, while the U.S. Army will leave Aric Almirola’s #8 Chevy at season’s end, reportedly to join Ryan Newman at Stewart-Haas Racing.
Regan Smith’s #01 has raced with only partial backing from Principal Financial Group this season, and is reportedly the topic of discussions between DEI and Richard Childress Racing. Childress is said to be interested in purchasing the team, then transferring it’s Top-35 owner’s points to his new #33 Chevrolet, to be driven by Clint Bowyer.
The phones are ringing all over Charlotte today, with DEI employees scrambling to find new positions for next season. As we reported weeks ago, DEI management continues to investigate possible mergers, partnerships, and even the outright sale of the team, without success. DEI’s John Story declined to comment when contacted earlier today.
And Finally: Red Bull Racing announced this morning what Sirius Speedway told you yesterday, that Mike Skinner and Scott Speed will replace AJ Allmendinger in the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota for the remainder of the 2008 season.
Skinner will drive the #84 in the next two races at Talladega and Lowe’s Motor Speedway, with Speed taking the reins at Martinsville for the remainder of the season. Speed will drive a third #82 Red Bull Toyota at Lowe’s on October 11, the same weekend he attempts to clinch the ARCA RE/MAX Series championship at Ohio’s Toledo Speedway.