Monday, April 4, 2011

Will Dale Jr. be satisfied with second?

   It's a difficult position to be in.

   Dale Earnhardt Jr. hasn't been to Victory Lane in the Sprint Cup Series for 99 races, yet on the surface it might seem he should be happy to finish second, like he did Sunday at Martinsville, Va.

   At the same time, if you seem satisfied with second, there will be those who question whether there is a "killer instinct" missing or some other magic key to victory.

   It's a no-win situation for Earnhardt - nothing new to him in his career. He has tried desperately to live a life and develop as a driver on his own while at the same time burdened by expectations driven by the memory of his very successful father, Dale Earnhardt Sr.

   After the race Sunday, Earnhardt Jr. did a good job trying his best to explain his internal battle of appreciating a good finish while at the same time still looking for more.

   Here is what he said: "I did. But I was just doing the best could I do with the car and trying to make the best out of the situation. We had an opportunity to win the race.  I'm disappointed that I didn't get the job done and it will probably bother me more and more as the night goes on.

   "But I'll probably think about it a million times what I probably could have done differently. You know, I think if I know what's best for me, I should probably have a good attitude about what happened today and probably go into the next race and use it as momentum and confidence, like any other good driver would do, instead of worrying about, you know, how close we came.  I should be thankful and grateful that I had the opportunity I had today and for the opportunity I got to work with the team I'm with and to even be here competing, and take this momentum and take what looks like to be a better start to the season than I've had in a while to the next racetrack and just keep trying to plug away.

   "We gained a lot of points on some guys that were around us today.  The 4 (Kasey Kahne) and the 56 (Martin Truex Jr.) had some trouble.  We just need to try to put some distance on some guys and get ourselves the opportunity to be in the Chase when the time is up. Steve (Letarte) is a good crew chief and he's going to give me more opportunities like this I feel."