07-16-2005, 01:12 PM
Waltrip, 42, said in a news conference at New Hampshire International Speedway that he had decided to leave Dale Earnhardt Inc. after five seasons because it was unclear to him what the company planned to do with its Nascar Nextel Cup race teams in 2006. Waltrip, who ended a 462-race streak without a victory when he won the 2001 Daytona 500 in a car owned by Earnhardt, said he wanted to explore his options for the 2006 season. "It's sad to say that I'm not going to be at D.E.I. anymore," Waltrip said as he prepared for tomorrow's New England 300 in Loudon, N.H. "But I'm really proud of winning some races for the team that Dale picked me to drive for." D.E.I. said it expected to field Nextel Cup cars next season for Dale Earnhardt Jr., the 30-year-old son of Dale Earnhardt, and for Martin Truex Jr., 25, a New Jersey native who is driving in the Busch Series. D.E.I. also hoped to field the No. 15 car driven by Waltrip.