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Maybe Junior should drive the 3 car more often

By admin | July 5, 2010

By Richard Allen

When I first heard that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was going to drive a number 3 car sponsored by Wrangler in the Nationwide Series race in Daytona I thought it was nothing more than a gimmick to sell a few die casts and t-shirts. Of course, that number and sponsor were used by Junior’s father at one time during his championship career.

I was also not so sure doing such a thing was a good idea for Junior. It seemed like another unnecessary distraction for a driver whose career of late has been filled with unnecessary distractions.

As it turns out, I think just the opposite was the case. Junior actually seemed much more focused than he has been in quite some time.

“There’s always pressure driving that car with that sponsor,” Earnhardt Jr. said after capturing the Subway Jalapeno 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race. “Anything less than a win was pointless.

“What did we do this for? Did we even honor him(Earnhardt, Sr.) by bringing it out and running fifth? What the hell? I felt a lot of pressure to win. I didn’t know if we could pull it off. But we were very lucky and very fortunate to have made some of the moves we made and we had some great luck, too. I mean, it just all worked out.”

Perhaps the type of pressure that Junior spoke of is exactly what he has been needing. Perhaps his current situation has made life a bit too easy for the driver who reportedly makes as much as $30 million per year.

If the younger Earnhardt were to drive a number 3 car all the time in the Sprint Cup Series he might feel compelled to stay focused that much longer and try that much harder.

Even his most ardent fans have to admit that focus has been an issue for Junior in recent years. There have been a number of pit stop errors and needless wall brushes to show that.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is a talented driver. But, there are a lot of talented drivers. There has to be something extra that pushes one talented driver ahead of the others. Extra pressure can bring about added focus and effort. If driving a car with a 3 on the door caused Junior to have those added elements then he should use it more often, no matter what he said after the race.

Using the number 3 would not dishonor Dale Earnhardt, Sr. in any way. As a matter of fact, I can think of few things that would honor him more than to have his son winning races with his number.

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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 |

11 Responses to “Maybe Junior should drive the 3 car more often”

  1. missouriracefan Says:
    July 5th, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    If Junior were to drive the #3 car all the time the drivers would not treat him with kid driving gloves like they did Friday night.

  2. Ginger Says:
    July 6th, 2010 at 3:39 am

    This “Perhaps his current situation has made life a bit too easy”, is the most nonsensical statement of the whole article. Life has never been “easy” for Dale Jr, and you of all people know this. The very last thing he needs is more pressure of any kind.

  3. Bill Says:
    July 6th, 2010 at 7:13 am

    I called the Junior win last week. With all of the hype I was pretty sure that NASCAR wanted a win. A coinsidence? I don’t think. I think that it was a set up deal from the start.

  4. Justin Says:
    July 6th, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Come on Bill, what would NASCAR have done if someone blew out a tire, and took out Jr 30 laps into the race, or if Jr blew an engine, etc. There are waaaay too many things that could have gone wrong to keep Jr from finishing the race at all, and you think NASCAR has the ability to not only ensure another driver’s mistake doesnt take him out, but also to ensure that Jr finishes, remains on the lead lap, is the leader at the end, etc….

    I can understand some people thinking NASCAR throws cautions at will to bunch the field, but there are far tooooooo many variables out of their hands, to guarantee any driver wins a race

    If it was that easy, dont you think Jr would win as frequently as Johnson???? What is better for NASCAR, Jr winning races/championships, or someone else winning races/championships. I think NASCAR benefits from Jr’s success, and since it is soooo easy for NASCAR to put him in Victory Lane, how come he doesnt win very often?????

    You dont like Jr, so if he wins, you find a way to justify it by chalking it up to that shady, cheating sanctioning body…..

  5. Hilda Beachfront Says:
    July 6th, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Me thinks that IF nascrap ‘rigged’ the win….there will be less money for a bit, for nascrap to make somebody else’s life miserable…cuz..lots of peoples would of had to be paid off, don’t ya think….

  6. Jerry Says:
    July 6th, 2010 at 11:52 am

    You can see the fix is in for Harvick. Nascar is doing it’s best to make sure he gets a Championship.
    Just look at Saturday night, the #33 spins and no caution.
    Anyother time they would have thrown it. Samething in 2007 at the Daytona 500, Big wreck on the last lap with Martin in the lead and they just let it go, Harvick wins.
    The last time Childress won a Championship was 1994.
    You can bet Richard has told Nascar ‘If I don’t get it this year I am just gonna sell al 3 cars and retire”
    Harvick is not half the driver that Johnson is and he never will be.

  7. The Old Guy Says:
    July 6th, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Was there anyone alive who DIDN’T know that the #3, Wrangler, Dale Jr. car would win @ Daytona?

  8. Barney Says:
    July 6th, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Leave Jr to be Jr. Why must everyone try to make him into his Dad. The man needs some peace and not all the pressure the media puts on him to try to recreate himself into his Dad’s image.

    Thank you.

  9. shawn Says:
    July 6th, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    I would really hate to be so ignorant as to think this win had to be set up. Are you intelligent enough to know how impossible it would be to set up a race, I bet not. If nascar were to be fixed you idiots,do you think they would have not done something before now? You are not race fans, why do you even visit these websites and give such stupid statements!

  10. Charles Says:
    July 6th, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    I agree with Bill B, I like Dale Jr, and when he won at other tracks, say Michigan I thought they were legit!

    But Daytona with Nascar in control with the restrictor plate, and all the hype about this retro car, I thought he would win going away, and it seems a little artifical to me!

    I mean you cannot completely give a win in Nascar because to many things can happen, blown tire, engine, wreck etc!

    Now after the win they tell own there selfs in the press about needing Jr to win, its good for Nascar and now all the sourviers they will sell etc!

    Nascar will lose more fans than they gain, when fans start seeing over the top favortism!

    Dale Jr winning is great, but if he had won at say Darlington, Charlotte etc, I would have had more confidence in the win!!!!!

  11. Marybeth Says:
    July 6th, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    In Victory Lane on Friday night, Richard Childress looked at us and deliberately said that Jr. has more wins to come. I believe him. He also knows Jr. has not forgotten how to drive and still has the will to win. I have given up on the wins being at HMS. 90 races down and 90 races to go until Jr.‘s term at HMS is up. :) Halfway through and I am beginning to see some light at the end of the long, dark tunnel.
    I was curious about Jr.‘s saying that he was not doing a burn-out because he wanted to take the engine back to have it analyzed because it was so much better…?
    To those who say the NW race was a fix, if it was, so are JJ’s 4 championships.