Kevin Harvick knows the odds of Dale Earnhardt Jr. leaving the company his father built for the company his father raced for are very long.
But Harvick would understand if NASCAR's most popular driver left Dale Earnhardt Inc. for Richard Childress Racing after the 2007 season if contract negotiations broke down.
He can't imagine how difficult it is for Earnhardt Jr. to work in a company where the owner, stepmother Teresa Earnhardt, seldom comes to the track.
"It's hard when you have what I call a deadbeat owner that doesn't come to the racetrack," Harvick said during Tuesday's visit to RCR on the second day of NASCAR's 2007 media tour. "Richard [Childress] is one of the best owners in the garage.
"You always see Richard Childress. You always see Chip Ganassi. All these owners, they all come to the racetrack. It's not just a money pit that somebody says, 'Well, I can make money off of Dale Jr. I can make money off of Dale Earnhardt.' "
Harvick, who owns a Busch Series team, said race teams can't be run from home.
"You have to be at the racetrack and you have to play the politics of the sport and you have to be a part of your team and you have to understand what's going on," he said. "To me, from the outside looking in, it doesn't look like that's happening."
Earnhardt Jr., at a dinner Monday night in Concord, said, "You're killing me."
"That's ridiculous," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I don't think there is a comment for that remark."
Earnhardt Jr. said with everything his stepmother has dealt with since the death of his father in 2001 on the last lap of the Daytona 500, "she had a full plate."
"We're successful on the racetrack," he added. "The people are in the right place."
Earnhardt Jr. said negotiations are ongoing for a contract beyond 2007, and he expects to settle in the next couple of months.
But questions about Teresa have been ongoing. She appeared at the track so seldom a few years ago that seven-time champion Richard Petty called her an "absentee owner."
"It's pretty obvious she's not around and not at the racetrack." Harvick said. "It doesn't seem she cares about it as much as some of the other owners do."