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Potential F1 team owners plan to offer Dale Earnhardt Jr. a ride

AP

 (AP)

Could Dale Jr. ditch NASCAR?

That’s the dream of the businessman behind the plan that brought Formula One racing to Austin, Texas.

Promoter Tavo Hellmund is now fronting a group of investors that are trying to purchase the troubled Manor Marussia F1 team, the Austin-Statesman reports.

The back-of-the-pack outfit went through administration (the British version of corporate bankruptcy) last year, but has continued to struggle financially. Its year-old cars have proven to be uncompetitive, and sponsorship scarce.

But with F1 on the verge of creating a new revenue sharing structure that would better support lower-tier teams like Manor Marussia, Hellmund’s partners see an opportunity to turn it into an American-focused team, with Earnhardt behind the wheel.

It’s already partway there. One of its current drivers is Alexander Rossi, who became the first American to race in F1 since 2007 this year. But while Hellmund says Rossi “has the resume” to stay with the new team, he’s serious about offering the job to Dale Jr., and that he’d be his first choice.

USA's next world champion?

But while Rossi has spent his entire career working his way up the open-wheel ladder to F1, Earnhardt has spent his almost exclusively in stock cars. One notable exception being a fourth place class finish in the 2001 24 hours of Daytona behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Corvette that he shared with his father and two sports car racing regulars.

Nevertheless, at 41 years of age, Earnhardt is already one of the elders on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit, and five years older than the most senior F1 driver, making a switch to the series highly unlikely.

Then again, it could just come down to business, as Junior's current contract with Hendrick Motorsports runs through 2017.