There has been a lot said lately about the absence of Tony Stewart at Daytona this week as Mike McLaughlin fills in for him and to some lesser extent, of P.J. Jones who is filling in for Robby Gordon who is racing in the Dakar rally with 10 stages still left. Now it seems there is another substitute, Kerry Earnhardt is filling in for Dale Jr while he goes back to "take care of his commitments".
You know, this is nothing new - its just a bunch of reporters looking for a story to write and making a bigger deal out of all of this then what it is. Dale Earnhardt Sr. hardly ever participated in testing in January. RCR had Dave Marcis do their testing and in return Dave would get a little help for his team in the form of an engine and/or "areo" info. Tony Stewart hardly ever participates in January testing either, we're just hearing about now because the reporters are looking for something to write about. Drivers for established teams are hardly needed after the first day of testing anyway.
In DEI's case they already have decided on what car they will be running in the 500 and have put a practice engine in the cars for Kerry so they don't hurt what they have. All they are doing is testing different set-ups.
"It's at the point now where they're just wanting to try some things on the cars," Kerry Earnhardt explains. "We're just going to go out and make laps and get some feedback from the computers on certain things they want me to try." - source NASCAR.com
I also think they (these pseudo-reporters) are making a bigger deal about Jr's absence because of what has happened lately between himself and Teresa through the media. There might be some validity to that, but instead of coming right out and stating it they are trying to milk the story by just alluding to it, or writing in innuendo to carry the story longer and sell papers.
Get Over It, This Isn't Anything New