DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Dale Earnhardt Jr. says that ownership in Dale Earnhardt Inc. is still the prevailing issue in his contract negotiations with the company his father founded.
Speaking at NASCAR Media Day on Thursday, Earnhardt Jr. said that he wanted majority ownership in the team owned and operated by his stepmother, Teresa. Asked if he wanted more than 50 percent ownership, Earnhardt Jr. said, "Absolutely."
The son of seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt is in contract negotiations with DEI since his current contract ends this year.
"The main factor is the ownership part," Earnhardt Jr. said. "It has nothing to do with money and nothing else, really. I really like my team. ... Everything is on the upswing. But my father has been gone for five, six years now, and I want majority ownership."
Earnhardt Jr. met new DEI President Max Siegel for lunch Wednesday, but he said that was more of a get-acquainted session.
"That was the first time me and him sat around and talked," Earnhardt Jr. said. "Yesterday was just lunch. He told me where he came from, what his upbringing was like, basically his whole history and what he was about and why he took the job."
The driver said he gave Siegel, a former gospel music executive, suggestions of where he thought the company should be, and they talked about ideas.
"We didn't really talk about the contract," Earnhardt Jr. said. "This guy is pretty impressive when you sit down with him and talk to him a little bit. He brings a lot of integrity and credibility wherever he is at.
"I'm excited he's at DEI. I don't think (the personalities) will affect my decision. He is a great guy to talk to and a great guy to work with. He is going to speed things up. He's going to improve the negotiations."
Earnhardt Jr. said he didn't regret some of the things he said last month about Teresa and their relationship, which he said "ain't a bed of roses." He reiterated that he wasn't happy with her comments that he needed to decide between being a public personality and a race car driver.
But Earnhardt Jr. also took exception with the notion that DEI needs him more than he needs DEI.
"I don't believe that is true — DEI provides me with a lot to be successful," he said. "They're a huge credit to everything I've ever done. ... (thanks to) the people I have had to work with, the caliber of teams I have had in the past."
That opinion isn't shared by everyone.
"He's really probably the only one that's got the bargaining power," said driver Kevin Harvick. "He's got it all on his side, and I think it's deservedly right that he does have it on his side. He's the most popular driver.
"He's been successful, and he deserves the respect of being a grown man and not being treated like he's 15 and somebody's stepson."
Bob Pockrass/NASCAR Scene / Special to FOXSports.com
Posted: 2 hours ago