Originally created 12/21/06

NASCAR notebook

The relationship between Teresa Earnhardt and her stepson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., continued its slow burn this week.

The widow of Dale Earnhardt told the Wall Street Journal her stepson needs to concentrate more on his career with the family-owned team.

"Right now the ball's in his court to decide on whether he wants to be a NASCAR driver or whether he wants to be a public personality," she said.

It was another salvo in a relationship that's deteriorated since the team founder died in a crash on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.

The driver already has worked through a lengthy contract extension with both sides working hard to gain an advantage over the other. Teresa Earnhardt owns Dale Earnhardt Inc., but her stepson clearly is the foundation of the entire operation - and the most popular driver in the sport.

Earnhardt Jr. has qualified for the Chase for the Championship twice in the three-year history of the playoffs.

RACING SUIT RECOVERED: The racing suit and helmet donated by Dale Earnhardt to the Texas Motor Speedway was recovered.

The suit was stolen by an employee of the racetrack, police from Fort Worth said.

The former seven-time champion donated the suit to the speedway president Eddie Gossage. It was in storage after being on display.

BUSCH HEADS TO THE MOUNTAINS: The 2007 season will be the last for Anheuser-Busch's sponsorship of the second-tiered series.

Busch has been a sponsor for 25 years. When it leaves after next season, Wal-Mart, Samsung and Subway may move into the title role.


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