By admin | September 8, 2010
By Richard Allen
Yesterday, I posted pieces on what I believe Mark Martin( http://racingwithrich.com/?p=1267) and Kasey Kahne( http://racingwithrich.com/?p=1268) have to race for over the next eleven weeks despite the fact that neither will be racing for the Sprint Cup championship in 2010. Each of those drivers have legitimate reasons for not giving up on a season that will not offer the ultimate prize in NASCAR.
The subject of this particular piece is what Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has to race for over the next eleven weeks even though, like Martin and Kahne, a championship is not in the works in 2010. I also plan to do similar pieces on likely non-Chasers Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya. Of each of the five drivers either already written about or about to be written about, the answer to what Junior has to race for over the next eleven races is almost certainly the most obvious.
Junior is racing to revitalize a career that has over the past several years taken a turn for the worse in a dramatic way. This driver who once looked to be on his way to a championship type career has not won a single race in over two years and has won only one race over the past four seasons.
He and his team need something, anything, to hang their hats on. A win, a series of solid runs, or anything of the kind is something this team could use in the most desperate way.
In a recent press conference, team owner Rick Hendrick was asked if he intended any crew chief changes for any of his teams for 2011. He stated his intention of keeping each of his current teams intact, including that of Junior and Lance McGrew.
These two need something to happen that will show they can succeed together over an extended period of time.
And more than just providing momentum for his team, a good showing for Junior over the course of the next eleven races could go a long way toward reinvigorating a large fan base that so badly wants something positive to cheer about.
Of all drivers currently locked out of the Chase for the Championship, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has the most obvious reason for why he needs to do well in spite of the fact that he has no chance of winning the Sprint Cup. So many depend on him. His team, his fans and NASCAR all would like nothing better than to see him do well and build momentum toward a more successful 2011.
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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.
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