One of the peculiar developments early in the 2011 season involves Camping World Truck Series driver Jeffrey Earnhardt and his abrupt dismissal from Rick Ware Racing. Earnhardt began the 2011 season with the goal of developing his skills in the truck series as well as compete for the rookie of the year honors. With support from Rick Ware and Fuel Doctor, it appeared as if he could enjoy some solid showings.
However, his young career took a hit when Rick Ware released the following statement:
“We have been informed by several team owners that our driver (Earnhardt) and his management company (Jeffrey Earnhardt Incorporated) have been shopping around for another team, alluding that sponsorship was coming with them. It’s pretty amazing the amount of calls we have received from owners about this situation, asking us what is going on and their concerns that a young driver and his management company are aggressively looking for another team with less to offer than they position they are currently in.”
Ware indicates that Earnhardt’s intentions were devious. According to his statement, he believes that Earnhardt openly stabbed him in the back by shopping for another ride with the intention of bringing the sponsor with him. Earnhardt of course offered his public rejoinder, which was in complete contrast to Ware’s statement.
“To read that release was very upsetting and I’m disappointed to hear the imflammatory and disparaging statements personally made by Rick Ware about me and my company. The facts support that we did reach out to other race teams after the sponsor notified Rick Ware informing us that he would be unable to support me without the sponsor’s funding. This past Sunday, Rick advised us that he would only race me in Martinsville providing we signed a release to allow him out of his contract with JEI. That release never arrived and we notified him in writing on Monday that we expected to drive the No. 1 truck in Martinsville, in accordance with our contract. To suggest anything other than these facts does not reflect the truth and is unfair to the fans and us.”
It is a case of ‘he said, they said’. Who do you believe in this curious public wrangling? The facts indicate that either Earnhardt’s inexperience in the business world led him to make the imprudent decision to shop his services openly or that Ware does not want Earnhardt as his driver and is willing to go to great lengths to terminate the relationship immediately.
Is this Ware’s way of setting up Earnhardt to look bad in order to maintain the sponsor and get a new driver? I really hate to believe that someone would deliberately tarnish another person’s reputation, so I will refrain from promoting that idea, but it appears to be a possibility.
I know Earnhardt is young and inexperienced in the racing and business world, and life for that matter, but I do believe he is intelligent enough to understand what his contract reads and that you cannot openly pursue without serious repercussions. If Ware is telling the truth, Earnhardt may have a difficult time furthering his career.
I am sure that more information will surface. I would like to hear from the sponsor Fuel Doctor.
Meanwhile, Earnhardt is looking for employment and Ware is looking for another driver.