News & Media


Six Pack: Kelley Earnhardt making big moves

August 30, 2011, Joe Menzer, NASCAR.com

General manager at helm of quickly growing team, including addition of Danica

Kelley Earnhardt, general manager and co-owner of JR Motorsports, answers this week's six questions.

1. Congratulations on signing Danica Patrick to drive the No. 7 Chevrolet full-time in the Nationwide Series beginning next season. Could you talk about what this means for your organization?

"We have Danica for one year, and for JR Motorsports it's exciting to be involved. As she continues her climb and her career in NASCAR, we'll always be one of the stepping stones that helped her achieve wherever she wants to go."

--KELLEY EARNHARDT

Earnhardt: Go Daddy has been our partner for quite some time now. For the short term, this shores us up for our 2012 season. We've got two full-time teams that we know are going to be sponsored and on the race track. That's a good thing to have, sitting here at the end of August -- [six] months before the next season begins. So in that respect, it kind of just helps us solidify our position for next season. Our teams can get their heads in the right place in try to finish up this year strong, and look forward to building on that next year.

We have Danica for one year, and for JR Motorsports it's exciting to be involved. As she continues her climb and her career in NASCAR, we'll always be one of the stepping stones that helped her achieve wherever she wants to go. From a historical perspective, it's a pretty neat place for JR Motorsports to be in.

And obviously the exposure that will come out of it is a feather in our cap as well, and should help us with all of our other sponsors and things that we have going on there. So it's a very positive thing for us.

2. Any plans to someday perhaps field a Sprint Cup car for Patrick or another driver?

Earnhardt: We're always thinking about it. But in this current climate, with everything that's going on with the economy and our sport, we like where we're at. We like the position we're in in the Nationwide Series. I don't see that changing in the foreseeable future, the next couple of years. I don't even know if I see it changing in three years. We're solid in what we're doing. A Cup program is a big bullet to bite, and I just don't think we're there yet.

3. Danica has expressed an interest to continue running in the Indianapolis 500. Where does JR Motorsports stand on that idea?

Earnhardt: Honestly we haven't yet had one-on-one discussions about that ... Obviously from her side I think it's something she would like to continue to try and do, if we can make it all work. Her desire to do something in that realm makes perfect sense to us. But like I've said, we would like for her to make all the Nationwide races in that time period. ... Obviously we would not want it to interfere with any of the Nationwide commitments that she has in terms of practices and races, so we would work hard to avoid that because we want to run for the championship next year.

4. What do you think Patrick's full-time entry into NASCAR does for the sport?

Earnhardt: As far as the fans, I think it will increase the viewership of the females -- of the young girls, the moms. I think they'll want to pay attention to the sport more. I have two girls who already think Danica hung the moon and they're interested in what she's doing because she's a girl -- and they can relate to that. That's exciting. That should interest sponsors as well, and be great for the sport as a whole.

5. Do you think it will pave the way for involvement by more women drivers in NASCAR's three national touring series and, if so, what kind of impact might that have over time?

Earnhardt: Females first have to prove their worthy of a ride in the Nationwide and Cup Series. I think there are a lot of female brands out there that would love to be involved in motorsports with the right relationship with a female driver. They haven't had that opportunity. I think they're sitting there, waiting patiently -- or impatiently at this point.

The women numbers [who are fans] are high in our sport. They're the ones who make the purchases and make the decisions. So the sponsors are there. I think we need the female drivers to come into play to help take those sponsors and move forward with them.

6. Let's get this straight right now. Are you considering becoming a Go Daddy girl?

Earnhardt (laughing): No, I'm not going to become a Go Daddy girl. I'm going to leave that up to Danica and Jillian Michaels and all those gals.