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Junior should be happy with second place…In more ways than one

By admin | February 15, 2010

By Richard Allen

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. came into the Daytona 500 having to answer a myriad of questions. He left the race having answered at least some of those questions by posting a solid second place finish.

Junior put on quite a show by surging from 10th place to the runner-up spot over the last two laps. His charge was very much reminiscent of the one made by his late father when he won his last race in Talladega.

The driver of the #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet should be happy with that second place run because he will not have to answer questions about another poor performance going into this week’s race at the Auto Club Speedway in California. The finish, and his overall SpeedWeeks showing, also proves that his team has made at least some improvement over the off season.

Granted, one race does not a whole season make. And for that matter, a restrictor plate race is hardly indicative of how a team will do once the rest of the schedule sets in. However, second place is better than 32nd place any day, and it has seemed as though Junior’s last couple of seasons have had far too many of those.

But there is another second place Junior ought to be happy about as well. After this week, Earnhardt has dropped to second place when it comes to attention being given at the track by the media.

Danica Patrick clearly emerged from Daytona as the new media darling in NASCAR. This ought to be an enormous relief to Junior. Now, when he walks through the garage area he might be able to do so without a swarm of cameras and microphones in his face, at least as long as Danica is around.

It can be her turn to answer all the questions, both good and bad, for a while. Junior might actually get a brief reprieve from all the hounding for the twelve or so weekends that Ms. Patrick makes an appearance.

Obviously, Junior would have liked to have won the Daytona 500. But, his second place in the race had to be somewhat satisfying. His second place in media attention had to a huge weight off his shoulders.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.

Topics: Articles |

9 Responses to “Junior should be happy with second place…In more ways than one”

  1. dawg Says:
    February 16th, 2010 at 9:40 am

    I was tickled to see a relatively unheralded driver beat the media darlings.
    I also enjoyed seeing Jr. make a charge like his Daddy made famous on the last lap.
    One thing that was a downer for me was his comment, while talking about finishing second.
    He said “at least it was a good points day.”
    I know Christmas is coming, I also know the Chase is coming. I just don’t want to be reminded of it at Daytona.
    To his credit he said “It’s probably a little early to be talking about it.”
    Amen, Jr. Amen!

  2. banzaibonnie Says:
    February 16th, 2010 at 10:28 am

    You’d think Jr. would at least have acknowledged the help Reut. gave him. Without that push up the middle he’d have ended up about 15th.

  3. steven Says:
    February 16th, 2010 at 11:20 am

    I think Junior would have been much happier if the winning car had not belonged to his evil stepmommy. Funny, she didn’t even go to the race.

  4. Richard Petersen Says:
    February 16th, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    I don’t blame Dale Earnhardt Jr for being so let down. That just goes to show how Earnhardt Childress Racing is so good at Daytona, taking most of the top 11 spots.

  5. Overra88ted Says:
    February 16th, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Jr. would never have had a chance to be 1st Loser, as Dale Earnhardt Sr. used to call finishing 2nd, if Reutimann hadn’t given him a bump. Without the bump to clear Bowyer and Biffle from the middle, Jr. would have faded back beyond 5th place at the end. SWEET WIN for DEI and Bass Pro Shop. Dale Earnhardt Sr. is smiling somewhere, Terresa who owns car #1 has every reason to be proud, time has proven her right about Jr. If you paid attention, Chip Ganassi IS the at track representative for DEI-Ganassi Racing, and has stated so, several times during the past year.

  6. Jay B. Says:
    February 17th, 2010 at 8:40 am

    OMFG!!! You people freakin disgust me. The guy finished 2nd and you can’t even give him credit for that. Yeah, the push from the 00 helped, but it wasn’t what got him through the hole between the 16 and 33, most other drivers would have wrecked all three cars. I didn’t see anybody pushing him into position to be pushed by the 00 either he got there all by himself. The kid has skill, plain and simple and that charge he made in those last 2 laps showed it.

  7. Ginger Says:
    February 17th, 2010 at 11:24 am

    DEI-Ganassi Racing! LOL I didn’t realize there was a new team in town. By the way, Teresa does not own the #1. It is jointly owned by Chip and Teresa. Look it up if you don’t believe it.

  8. Overra88ted Says:
    February 17th, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Ginger, if you ever bothered to even look at owner’s points, you’d probably be surprised to learn that the #1 is owned by Terresa Earnhardt and the #42 by Chip Ganassi, same as in 2009. Make no mistake, DEI is the Earnhardt in Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing. Go check the facts, you must be a nascar newbie or something.

  9. Larry Says:
    February 17th, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    Not many passes were made for the lead without a “bump” or “drafting help”. Gee, some people don’t have a clue. And, the 00 probably improved his position by drafting with Jr. But, I will agree, it’s way too early to say Jr. is back. I still think the juror is out on his crew chief. I was hoping after Kyle Busch’s Crew Chief was fired he would get picked up by Hendrick for Jr. Guess that didn’t pan out though. Hey, did anyone notice that Kyle was no where near as dominant this year at Daytona. I think they made a huge mistake by firing his crew chief. Time will tell! Truth is, McMurry would probably have not won Daytona without a little bumping and drafting help. Some folks are grasping for straws for anything to criticize Jr.