Dale Jr., Gen6 not good mix
It is a far cry from this faithful NASCAR fan to run down a Sprint Cup driver, but there is one such competitor that needs to learn how to drive the Gen6.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s last win in the upper-class series came last year at Michigan. He dominated the race leading laps, but in all actuality it was based on a late pit stop for fuel. He snapped a 143-race winless streak with the victory.
Since the Car of Tomorrow was introduced in late 2007 on a partial schedule of 16 races, Junior has not posted a competitive victory in the Sprint Cup series.
Junior and other veteran drivers such as Richard Petty and David Pearson have expressed their dislike for the car due to the inability to create better competition on the track. Officials have handed out major fines to crew chiefs and teams for mere alterations.
Junior was part of a testing group at Charlotte last week to break in new parts and make suggestions for new race packages and parts for the 2014 season.
Earnhardt Jr. has shown sprits of talent, but has failed to tame the beast that has not afforded him a trip into victory lane on his driving ability.
He has won several races with the newly designed cars in the Nationwide Series during the past five years. In 2010, Junior drove the No. 3 blue and yellow Wrangler Chevrolet to victory lane at Daytona.
In 2007, Earnhardt Jr. signed a five-year deal with Hendrick Motorsports. This organization fields cars for Jeff Gordon (four-time series champion), Jimmie Johnson (five consecutive championships) and Kasey Kahne. Junior has two wins (both by better fuel mileage) driving the No. 88.
His team has seen great moments and short falls over the past six years. The team has went through four crew chiefs, two car chiefs and only the man upstairs can count the spotters used to help his driving.
In 2011, Junior extended his contract with Hendrick to run until the 2017 season. Though the team has the best engines, engineers, car builders and owner one thing remains a huge issue for his program.
This year Junior was searching for a major sponsor to fill out the remaining 13 races of the 2013 year. Rick Hendrick, his team owner and long time family friend, found several small deals to fill out some of the races and even used his Hendrick Co. to fill out two races at Texas and Homestead.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has the “Junior Nation” to afford him to be named the Most Popular Driver in NASCAR the past 10 straight years.
His best year in the Cup series was in 2004 with six wins, 16 top 5s and earnings more than $7 million while driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc.
Since joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2008, he has two wins, 35 top 5s and earned more than $29 million in six years.
Junior has the equipment and support of the best program in NASCAR, but has failed to show his worth to companies and fans such as me that he knows how to win.
Contact Eddie Thomas at email@example.com