It’s still not clear which two racing drivers have joined Charlotte entrepreneur Felix Sabates and his group on their quest to purchase the Carolina Panthers, but we now know one racer whose name can be crossed off the suspect list.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. revealed Tuesday that, although the prospect of becoming a part-owner in the NFL franchise piqued his interest, he hasn’t joined Sabates’ group, according to The Associated Press reporter Jenna Fryer.
Sabates revealed Jan. 10 that Speedway Motorsports Inc.’s chairman and CEO, Bruton and Marcus Smith, are “very interested” in joining his five-person ownership group, as are two unnamed racing drivers.
“I did call Marcus (Smith) and I said, ‘Hey, Marcus, if you guys get in the middle of it and you think it’s a good business deal, I definitely have some interest.’ But I am not one of the guys that Felix is talking about,” Earnhardt told Fryer.
Although the project excited Earnhardt, the soon-to-be rookie broadcaster admitted that he wouldn’t be able to contribute enough money to grab a significant slice of the pie. And that actually speaks volumes about who the mystery drivers might be.
In 2017, Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson were the only NASCAR racers to land a spot on Forbes’ list of the 100 highest-paid athletes. What’s more, NASCAR’s 15-time most popular driver barely made the cut, slotting in at No. 100.
Considering Johnson recently opened a restaurant, we doubt he wants to make another sizable investment to join the bid to buy the Panthers.
As a result, we suspect the unnamed drivers either are retired, or from outside of the NASCAR world.