Earnhardt Jr. leaving father's team behind, but not legacy 

On May 10, Dale Earnhardt Jr. officially announced he will leave his father's racing team at the end of the 2008 race season.

While Earnhardt Jr. realizes there might be some negative reaction from some longtime Earnhardt Sr. fans concerning his decision, he said he is walking away from Team DCI only and not his father's legacy.

"It is time for me to continue his legacy in the only way I know I can " by taking the life lessons that he told me: Be a man, race hard and contend for championships," he told the media last week. "That's what I intend to do. And I feel strongly that I would have my father's blessing."

WHAT'S NEXT?
Most expect both DCI and Earnhardt Jr. to experience continued success after they part ways. DCI will attract plenty of hotshot drivers as possible replacements, while Earnhardt Jr. almost will certainly have any number of racing teams bidding his future services.

Earnhardt Jr. is already NASCAR's highest-paid driver. Last year alone, he earned more than $20 million on and off the track, which was over a million more pocketed by Gordon, who is considered the sport's No. 1 driver.

Where he ends up in 2008 is anyone's guess at this point, but one thing is for certain: Earnhardt Jr. is still young enough and talented enough to win, and win big. "Jay C. Upchurch

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