Siegel walking thin line in Earnhardt negotiations

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Indianapolis attorney Max Siegel has been president of NASCAR race team Dale Earnhardt Inc. only nine days, but already finds himself negotiating with the man who wants to be his boss.


Dale Earnhardt Jr. told reporters Wednesday he wants to own at least 51 percent of the Charlotte, N.C., race team.


As president, Siegel represents team owner Teresa Earnhardt. She is the former wife of Dale Earnhardt St., who died in the 2001 Daytona 500.


Teresa also is the stepmother of Earnhardt Jr., whom Siegel is trying to sign to continue driving for the team.


Siegel, the highest-ranking black executive in NASCAR, told IBJ earlier this month that signing Earnhardt Jr. to a long-term contract was his No. 1 priority in his new position. He also stressed his loyalty to Teresa Earnhardt, and didn’t mention the possibility of Earnhardt Jr. taking over the operation as an option for negotiations.

Earnhardt Jr. told reporters in Charlotte after his initial meeting with Siegel that he has a good feeling about working with Siegel, formerly of Baker & Daniels and Sony BMG’s gospel record label. Earnhardt said he felt Siegel could expedite the matter between him and Teresa Earnhardt.

“[Siegel] is a great guy to talk to and a great guy to work with,” Earnhardt Jr. told reporters in Charlotte. “He’s going to speed things up. He’s going to improve negotiations and help those things make it a little easier.

“A lot of the problems in the past, it was very clunky in how it went along. Really, you could never get gears meshed. I think [Siegel] can improve that.”

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