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Pssst: Want to drive NASCAR for Dale Earnhardt Jr.? He's looking for 'the next Brad Keselowski'

  Ol' Blue Eyes: The highest paid driver in NASCAR, again....but what next for his own JR Motorsports? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Dale Earnhardt Jr. has earned honors as Forbes' magazine's pick as NASCAR's most popular driver at the bank, as stock car racing's highest paid wheelman.
    But money doesn't always bring happiness, and as if Earnhardt doesn't have enough on his plate driving for Rick Hendrick, now he's had to deal with another shuffling on his own JR Motorsports Nationwide team, cutting loose Kelly Bires – who was teammate with part-time NASCAR driver Danica Patrick on the two-car JRM team – and plugging in Jamie McMurray for the next few months while he searches for a regular.
   ...and while questions again are being raised about Patrick herself and any Sprint Cup racing eventually.
   How Earnhardt handles JRM is being watched, in part because of how his late father built and operated Dale Earnhardt Inc., now run by Teresa Earnhardt, though in a somewhat odd, almost silent, partnership with Chip Ganassi, and in part because of how Tony Stewart has worked to build his own owner-driver operation...and in part because Mark Martin, currently Earnhardt's teammate at Hendrick's, is considering running a team himself in 2012 – or even perhaps running for JR Motorsports, to hear the talk.
   Right now Earnhardt says he's working the market looking for a new Nationwide driver. Of Bires he says "It just wasn't working out. There was no chemistry, and it was on the verge of going horribly wrong. 
   "I know Bires was not really enjoying it. 
    "A lot of deals in this garage have people going in with the best expectations.....but it just didn't work out. 
   "I like Kelly a lot as a person, and I do believe with the right package and the right people he could have success.  He's shown that."
    However sponsors, in this tight economy, want results, and driver development projects aren't at the top of their list.
    Earnhardt, though Forbes magazine says he earned $30 million last year, has talked about JRM sponsorship issues. "I felt where we are with our company, it's real delicate financially, and you have to make sure you make the right calls...and you have to do them in a timely matter. 
    "We were definitely -- internally -- going down the wrong path. And we don't have the luxury of patience in this situation.
    "I wish we did. Several years ago we did have the luxury."
    That's when Earnhardt gave Brad Keselowski a shot, which Keselowski has turned into a full-time Sprint Cup ride with Roger Penske.
    So Earnhardt says "we're looking for the next Brad...the next Jeff Gordon, whatever you want to call it."
    Gordon is listed by Forbes as NASCAR's second highest paid driver, making some $27 million in 2009.

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They could throw a billion dollars into Danica but she isn't going to do diddly.

i'm wondering if all that

i'm wondering if all that hoopla was just so much marketing hokum. what's she doing over in indy-cars.....

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