Wednesday, November 24, 2010

No more excuses for Dale Jr.

   Let's be honest here.

   Ever since Dale Earnhardt Jr. moved to Hendrick Motorsports and it became clear the change was not going to live up to expectations the legions of Earnhardt fans have been looking for someone to blame.

   First it was crew chief Tony Eury Jr. Now, it's crew chief Lance McGrew. And along the way have been the ridiculous accusations that Earnhardt's team didn't get the "best" stuff at HMS, that somehow there was some behind-the-scenes effort to jeopardize Earnhardt's performance.

   While I found the timing of team owner Rick Hendrick's decision to reorganize three of his Sprint Cup programs odd, I'm glad he did it the way he did. Earnhardt isn't just getting a new crew chief, he is getting a whole new team.

   Everything and everyone that have been working on Jeff Gordon's team in recent seasons will now become Earnhardt's. The cars, the personnel, even apparently the pit crew that was used by teammate Jimmie Johnson in the final weeks of the season, will become Earnhardt's next year.

   Yes, Gordon did not win a race in 2010, but there is no question he was a serious contender for many wins and a legitimate title contender. The uniqueness of Hendrick's move has provided something that could likely prove to be a top story in 2011 - no excuses for Earnhardt or his fans.

   I don't believe that Earnhardt suddenly lost all the talent he had when he racked up 18 career Cup wins, but neither do I believe that everyone and everything Hendrick has put to work with Earnhardt since he arrived at HMS has somehow been "sub par."

   There is another answer. And I think in 2011 we might finally find out what that is.


  1. Either "Checkers or Wreckers"....

  2. It wasn't talent that Junior lost, it was the advantage he'd had at DEI with underside aerodynamic work by Louis Duncan. It wasn't until 2004-5 that other teams figured out what they were doing.

    The reality is talent-wise Junior has never been all he was hyped up to be. The revolving door of crew chiefs at DEI and at Hendrick helped mask a fundamental flaw in Junior's ability to drive the car and communicate what it needed for adjustments.

  3. I don't think any one will be satisfied until Jr runs in the top ten every week and gets a Championship. And he knows that. ..Then we will go through it again the next year if he doesn't run good. Its going to be a vicious circle for him every year that he drives. (It is a big responsibility for him to try to be the best Every race, because he knows We expect it) There are 30+ other drivers that don't do well every race, every year..... But no one Expects them to do any better, And they don't talk about it.....NOT LIKE EVERY ONE DOES WITH JR!!!!!!!!! He has one Hell of a burden being Dale Earnhardt Jr.
    We, his DiHard Fans, know him as the kind, quiet, honest, caring and gentle guy, and We know he can Still drive. The haters, or the jealous people, know him as someone that can't drive anymore, But they don't know him like we do (their loss!!) ....I feel so sorry for him and his situation. May his Daddy in Heaven and God be with him on his Quest to BE the BEST. His fans are with him All The Way (if he looses any, they aren't real Jr Fans!!!!!) WE LOVE YOU DALE EARNHARDT JR!!

  4. Gee Jim, you must really hope that Jr. still struggles next year. Then you can actually come out and say that he has no driving talent and can’t communicate, instead of just hinting at. What if he actually does have success next year?
    Would that mean that he suddenly got better as a driver, or was it really the cars and previous crew chiefs he just didn’t click with? You and others would have to eat a lot of crow. Jr. is in a no win situation. If he doesn’t do better, it will be his fault. If he does, it will be because of Steve, and/or the team. It’s amazing Jr. sticks around to keep driving, when he has to put this kind of BS.

  5. Hendrick has only ever had 2 successful teams and that was the 24 and 48. If you look back the 5 team has been second rate since Terry Labonte won the championship back in 1996 and the 88 (previously the 25) has always struggled. I think Jr is a better driver than you are giving him credit for and in spite of the pressure that is put on him by the fans and the media he remains a down to earth guy who I'm proud to support week in and week out.

  6. I am a long time Jr fan that is glad to see he is finally getting the opportunity to be competitive on a weekly basis. That has not been the case since he has been at Hendrick. I'm not suggesting all is Hendrick's fault. But, without the right equipment and support he wasn't able to compete. McGrew in hindsight was an absolute fiasco. Now he has the chance to move forward and I will wait until the end of 2011 to pass judgement on Jrs ability to drive or lack thereof even though it seems you have already made your mind up.

  7. You going to spend your whole writing career beating Dale Junior down? more BS

  8. I do feel bad for Jr. in some ways. He was forced into the lead Earnhardt role by his dad's death, and he wasn't anywhere near ready. He's a good driver, but not anywhere near as good as Sr. (most drivers aren't), and yet Earnhardt fans want the same level of success from Jr. The media is no help. So Jr. is in a no-win position.

    So I hope the moves help. Although I have placed my loyalties with Richard Childress Racing, NASCAR is far more interesting when an Earnhardt is competitive.