Kerry Earnhardt gets another chance
August 11, 1999 from NASCAR
BRISTOL, Tenn. - Kerry Earnhardt, the eldest son of seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series
driving champion Dale Earnhardt, is about to get his own Busch Grand National Series
driving career jump started thanks to Ed Whitaker and Team Marines Racing.
Businessman Rick Rathbun, 45, has announced his intention to sponsor the Kerry
Earnhardt/Ed Whitaker Racing tandem under his own Team Marines Racing banner in the Aug.
27 running of the Food City 250 BGN event at Bristol Motor Speedway. Rathbun, a former
Marine, is President of DEC Technologies, Inc., an aerospace industry parts and components
manufacturer based in Piney Flats, Tenn. -- just a few miles southwest of the Bristol
Veteran car owner Whitaker, whose race shop is located in nearby Bristol, Va., and who
calls Bristol Motor Speedway his "home track," is taking it upon himself to
breathe new life into Kerry Earnhardt's career that came to an abrupt halt after just four
races this year.
Unlike his younger brother, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who captured the NASCAR Busch Series Grand
National Division title last season in spectacular fashion, and is close to repeating that
effort this year, Kerry Earnhardt has a lot to prove to the racing world as well as to
"A lot of people have written me off, but I know I can get the job done if given the
right circumstances," stated Kerry, who boasts several years of driving experience in
NASCAR's Late Model Stock and Goody's Dash Divisions.
Driving the No. 40 Channellock Chevrolet at the start of this season for what was Doug
Taylor Racing, Kerry had his first chance to race for an experienced NASCAR Busch Series
race team that had a solid track record. All of that changed shortly before Earnhardt's
1999 season debut in Daytona in February, however, when Taylor sold the team.
"I put that deal (the ride with Taylor) together myself," Earnhardt said.
"My daddy didn't know anything about it until after it was completed, and it really
looked like a great opportunity for me. We had some great tests in the Channellock car,
and I really felt that we were going to get off on the right foot, but when the ownership
changed (the sale of the team to Tennessee newspaper magnet Darwin Oordt), things just
started going downhill. It was pretty evident after a while that they were looking for a
Earnhardt qualified for just four races with the Channellock team, recording a season-best
20th place finish in the NAPA 300 in Daytona. In all, Kerry has started just seven races
in his truly brief Busch Series career that began with a 3-race stint in a Doug Taylor car
at the tail end of the 1998 campaign.
"I'm truly excited about this opportunity to race for Ed Whitaker and a really
different and exciting sponsorship," the 29-year-old Earnhardt said. "I've had a
rough go so far in my Busch Grand National career, but the truth of the matter is that I
haven't really had a lot of time in a Busch car to prove myself.
"I honestly feel that I now have the best chance I have ever had to learn how to
drive these cars. I'll have the experience of Ed Whitaker and his team, good equipment,
and the support of Mr. Rathbun and Team Marines Racing to show what I can do. And I know
that my dad and brother will offer their help and advice. I'm hoping that I can do a good
job for everyone involved in this project so that this can develop into a full time
Whitaker has been a fixture in the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series since the Series'
debut season in 1982 and remains the winningest active owner in Series history. Such Busch
Series greats as Harry Gant, Sam Ard, Morgan Shepherd and the late Butch Lindley have
driven for Whitaker over the years with Gant the most successful of the lot with 21
victories, 51 top-5 and 71 top-10 performances in just 124 starts from 1988 through 1994.
Whitaker remains convinced that with the right help, Kerry Earnhardt can rightfully follow
in the tire tracks of these legends as well as his late great grandfather (Ralph
Earnhardt), his father and younger brother.
"We've got a brand new race car and engine ready for Kerry for Bristol, and we'll do
whatever it takes to make this a successful experience for everyone," Whitaker
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July 26, 1998 and is owned and maintained by Gary Harris. This site is a
tribute to "NASCAR's Greatest Driver" and his up and coming son. We are
not affiliated with any official Team, Sponsors, Media Group or NASCAR. This site is
solely for entertainment purposes. Information and statistic's on this site have
been collected from various NASCAR related sites on the internet, from Winston Cup Scene,
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