When the green flag waves Sunday afternoon marking the start of the Daytona 500 and the beginning of Nascar’s 60th season, the cars will roar down the front stretch, the fans will stand and cheer, and all will seem normal in a spectacle that is part sport and part cultural phenomenon.
Dale Earnhardt Sr. after winning the Daytona 500 in 1998. The team he started is one of a handful of Nascar icons that are no longer racing.
But this is not business as usual in Nascar. Change has come in 2009, not by popular demand but by economic necessity. And it has cut deeply into the fabric of the sport. The new Nascar is leaner, and suddenly missing pieces of its history.
For the first time in 60 years, there will not be a Petty Enterprises racecar or a driver named Petty on the racetrack.
Dale Earnhardt Inc., started by the seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt, will join a storied list of teams that can no longer compete.
Later in the article:
Loss of sponsorship cost Dale Earnhardt Inc. as well, although its problems began in 2007 with the decision by Dale Jr. to sign with Hendrick after a failed bid to gain control of D.E.I. Asked if he was upset by the loss, Earnhardt said, "It don’t bother me." "People come and go in your life and you don’t always get things the way you want them and that’s just another case of it," he said.
D.E.I., which has only one racecar sponsored in 2009, has merged with Chip Ganassi Racing and will be called Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.
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