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Is it possible that Dale Jr. just isn't an elite NASCAR driver?

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Double Down, May 29, 2009.

  1. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    Maybe there is a NASCAR thread where this is being discussed, but it seems like it's worthy of opening it up to non-gear heads like me since he's still the most recognizable name in the sport. I see where Tony Eury Jr. got fired as Junior's crew chief after what has been a pretty shitty season. I don't follow this stuff that much, but I do feel like I read about 100 features about how Dale Jr. was finally going to have access to the best technology and have a chance to show how good he really is after he went to Hendrick Motor Sports, and that hasn't exactly worked out that way (yet). And Kyle Busch, who I know is a pretty gigantic douche, took a dig at Junior by saying "It's always someone else's fault with him" today in his presser.

    So enlighten me. Is he on a bad run, or are we sort of figuring out that he's just not quite an elite driver. One of the top 20 NASCAR drivers, maybe, but not anything close to the level of Gordon, Johnson, Edwards, Stewart, etc.
  2. Rockbottom

    Rockbottom Active Member

    I have long argued with my father in law that Junior fans are equal to Alabama fans, in the gap between their blind loyalty/expectation of greatness and their driver's/team's actual ability.

    Is he popular? Without question. If his name was Dale Smith Jr., I am not entirely certain he would have a full-time ride right now.

  3. GB-Hack

    GB-Hack Active Member

    Interesting that you bring this up, I was just reading a piece on SI.com that concerned this.


    To me, as it is to Beach, it's interesting that Kyle got the push to bring Junior in, and yet he's the one that's done really well the last two seasons.
  4. westcoastvol

    westcoastvol Active Member

    Junior is the Boris Said of superspeedways.

    And that concludes my scouting report.
  5. Shoeless Joe

    Shoeless Joe Active Member

    What makes him the most popular is also his biggest handicap — his last name. Everyone has these expectations that he be his dad.
  6. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    I always thought the "He's not as good as his daddy!" stuff was a little silly, because how many guys have ever been that good? But it doesn't seem like too much to ask that he'd be as good as, say, Matt Kenseth (or something) considering all the love he gets.
  7. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    We did a compare/contrast story to Kenseth/Earnhardt Jr. not long after Kenseth won his title. Low key guy, no name - but probably a much better driver. I think Jr is good not great. Maybe not even in the same league as his dad, though lots of guys aren't. Big Dale may have been the best ever.
    Yeah, Dale Smith would be out of a ride now.
  8. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    But most of us gave up those same expectations of Kyle Petty by 1991
  9. Double J

    Double J Active Member

    The last NASCAR driver I can think of who was as good as, if not better than a championship-calibre father was, coincidentally, another Dale who drove the 88 - Jarrett.

    Of course, Richard Petty left his old man in the dust.
  10. Bubbler

    Bubbler Active Member

    I wrote a column at least six or seven years ago making the argument that Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in danger of becoming the Anna Kournikova of motorsports.

    Nothing that's happened in his career since then has proven the idea wrong.
  11. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    It's sort of uncomfortable to see him suck this much because he seems like such a nice guy and lord knows it would be hell to have to deal with those kind of expectations, but at some point, Hendrick Motor Sports has got to feel like it's dumping way, way too much money down a hole without getting much results. Now, I don't really have even a basic grasp of how the economics work, so maybe with sponsorships and apparel sales they get from having him makes up for whatever shitty results he's putting up.

    Again, I'm ignorant on all this, but wasn't he winning races back when he was running for DEI with equipment people felt like wasn't quite as good as the stuff the super teams were using? It seems like he got results in the past, he has the talent. But maybe the sport has changed and he's been left behind.
  12. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    Anna Kournikova didn't even sniff 18 wins. I do think that Junior's free ride at Hendrick is over and he's going to have to start producing this year or he's gone.
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