Tuesday would have been Dale Earnhardt's 57th birthday, and for the seventh straight year since his death in a crash in the 2001 Daytona 500 fans gathered at Dale Earnhardt Inc. to mark the occasion.
Several hundred fans braved blustery weather to participate in Dale Earnhardt Day activities, getting autographs from DEI's current drivers and touring the team's headquarters/museum in Mooresville, N.C.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. sent a short videotaped greeting to fans at his former team and DEI owner and chief executive officer Teresa Earnhardt spoke briefly at an afternoon ceremony.
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 1 Chevrolets for the team, joined teammates Mark Martin, Aric Almirola, Paul Menard and Regan Smith at the gathering. DEI has notified Truex that it plans to pick up an option on his contract for 2009, but both Truex and DEI president Max Siegel said there are details that must be worked out regarding that.
"I am pretty happy with how things are going, but there's a lot of stuff we need to work out and a lot of questions I need answered going forward," Truex said.
"We will just see where that leads. ...There are questions I need answered before I commit three or four years of my life in racing. It's hard to know what's going to happen."
Siegel said DEI wants not only to bring Truex back for next season but also wants to talk about a long-term deal. "We want to have him here long term, so we're having those discussions," he said.