NASCAR & Auto Racing

Yates may have edge over DEI in pitched battle for Paul Menard

DOVER, Del. - Ask Max Siegel one day about Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s prospects of keeping driver Paul Menard in 2009 and he's very confident. Ask him the next and his outlook is more grim.

"We're just in the heat of competition right now for Paul," said Siegel, DEI's president of global operations. "As of right now, nothing has changed, but my gut feeling seems to change frequently."

Speculation mounted Friday at Dover International Speedway that Menard had decided to move to the Yates Racing organization next season, but both Siegel and Yates team owner Doug Yates denied a deal had been completed. Both said, however, a decision was expected very soon.

"I feel good about what we have tried to do for Paul and the progress he's made," Siegel said. "I would love to have him here at DEI. I think he's a good fit."

Yates is working to expand the current two-car Sprint Cup operation, which fields Fords for Travis Kvapil and David Gilliland.

"Eventually, we want to get to four teams," Yates said. "We have been talking to Paul and I feel we have a very good chance at getting him to join our organization.

"I think this will all come together one way or another with Paul shortly. I'd like to be able to answer the question today, but I can't."

Menard, 27, is in his second full Cup season and has one top-10 finish in 66 career starts. He is currently 27th in points. He has one win in 114 career starts in the Nationwide Series as well.