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« Here’s what Kasey Kahne has to race for over the next eleven weeks | Main | Here’s what Juan Pablo Montoya has to race for over the next eleven weeks »

Here’s what Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has to race for over the next eleven weeks

By admin | September 8, 2010

By Richard Allen

Yesterday, I posted pieces on what I believe Mark Martin( and Kasey Kahne( 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.

Topics: Articles |

7 Responses to “Here’s what Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has to race for over the next eleven weeks”

  1. mikeyfan5599 Says:
    September 9th, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Rich, first Dale Junior has to have the desire and dedication to win. Instead of playing cowboys and indians at his western town on Mondays and Tuesday, except for mandatory meetings, he needs his butt in the shop, learning and showing the team he cares about winning. All one has to do is look at an interview today vs. one say 7 or 8 years ago. Today, slumped shoulders, looking anywhere and everywhere except the camera or interviewer and no fire in his eyes. In the past, Looking straight in the camera, Shoulders back standgin up straight and a fire in his eyes. Until that comes back, nothing, and I mean nothing is going to help him. He is satisfied with what he has, inspite of the charade he tries to show with the camera in his face.

  2. Marybeth Says:
    September 9th, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Rich, During the Atlanta race, Andy Petree said that Jr. had the rear of his car hung-out on every corner. Dale Jarrett said that Jr. was driving the wheels off his car. In other words, Jr. is driving his heart out every corner. “Next week, going into the Chase and into the Chase our plan is for those two guys to be together.” …to be the R&D car. Have you ever heard of the 25/88 R&D car running competitively for the championship…?
    “If you miss the Chase and you just decide you’re gonna change something just to be changing it I think that’s a mistake,” Hendrick said. …just to be changing it…? How about they missed the chase, again & are 19th in points. As if he has no concept that racing is suppose to be about winning…? Jr. & Mark both said after the race that they are trying new parts and pieces, i.e., R & Ding, & that they did not have speed. It is hard to win a race without speed…what happened to those vaunted Hendrick engines? JJ’s car had speed.
    I believe Jr. will never be competitve at HMS. Have you ever heard of the 25/88 R&D car running competitively for a championship? Rick hired Jr. to get money from his Earnhardt name and to keep him from being competition for JJ.
    I found it interesting in Atlanta that Nascar was trying to keep Jr. on the lead lap while Rick was trying to bury him in mid-pack, or worse…? If Nascar wants to see Jr. winning again they just have to make sure that JJ & JG don’t finish in the top ten until Jr. is winning again.

  3. Overa88ted Says:
    September 9th, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    I find it interesting that MaryBeth continues to come up with lame wacko fantasy excues for Dale Jr. Who has used his God-given average at best talent to drive his car with the wheels hung out for the last 79 races without a win. That would be 816 days Jr. Nation. Pre-orders for the “88 races With Out a Win” collectable T-shirts are being shipped Oct 1st. I read somewhere there may even be a special paint scheme for race#88!

  4. JR Says:
    September 9th, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    Why does the media continue to try to ride this dead horse? I guess it’s so Marybeth will continue to find reasons why her guy is being screwed over at HMS. Even with NASCAR trying to help keep him from going laps down, he can’t help himself. He is done…over…he doesn’t have “it”….his time has passed. I was a David Pearson fan, David’s time passed. I was a DW fan. DW’s time passed. I was a Terry Labonte fan. Terry’s time passed. Junior didn’t have that much talent and he didn’t have to use much of what he did have to earn great gobs of money and hoards of adoring fans. In the beginning he had dear old dad pushing him. Then for a year or two, he was trying to do it for dearly departed dad. After that, there was no motivation…just collect the money and wave to the fans. If he wins another race, it will be NASCAR’s feeble and obvious attempt to prop up the business because he’s not capable of doing it even if he had the 48 car crew running his pit. Rumors are that next year NASCAR is looking at 16 cars for the chase in an effort to get Junior involved in the final ten races. I suggest they shoot for 20 to 25 to insure he makes it in 2011.

  5. mikeyfan5599 Says:
    September 10th, 2010 at 7:38 am

    So Marybeth suggest that NASCAR rig the races for Junior to win, as if they don’t try that already, by telling Rick his two most successful drivers can’t finish in the top 10 until Junior wins a race. Typical of how “Jr. Nation” thinks. Marybeth, you do realize that NASCAR allowed Junior to CHEAT for his last win. He passed the pace car 3 times under caution, the penalty of which is tail end of the longest line. They ignored this rule until the other teams complained and then after the third time and Junior in a position to be able to coast home in the lead if he ran out of gas, they warned him if he did it again they would send him to the end of the longest line. Now if it had been anyone else except Junior the penalty would have been laid out and that driver would not have won.

    Junior finished 25th in the points last year, The way he is going he is going to push that number again this year. He no longer has the heart nor does he have the dedication to become a top driver anymore.

  6. Rick Pitino Says:
    September 10th, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    I have never really subscribed to the “Hendrick doesnt care if Jr is successful” argument, but here are a few thoughts that start to make you wonder if Jr is battling a losing fight:
    Jr’s #’s at HMS, with Eury Jr
    48 races, 19 top 10, 11 top 5, 1 win, 986 laps led, 15.9 avg finish. Certainly not specatacular stats, but here is his numbers with McGrew
    49 races, 8 top 10, 3 top 5, 0 wins, 124 laps led, 20.8 avg finish. Horrible numbers, borderline pathetic numbers.

    You cant tell me Jr’s talent has escaped him over the years. Eury got a year and a half, and they had decent success. McGrew has gotten a year and a half, and they have been utterly pathetic in comparison to even Eury Jrs stats. How the F can Hendrick justify keeping McFrew on the box????

    Yes, I realize that, as Kyle Busch said, it is always the crew chief, never the driver, but can anyone argue that McGrew is giving him race winning cars, and Jr simply cant find the way to the front? This whole team sucks, and anyone that thought taking people from the 5 was going to improive performance on both teams is crazy. The only reason there are people working in the 5/88 shop is because those guys arent good enough to be in the 248 shop…..

    Until Hendrick takes a guy like Ron Malik from JJ, and puts him on Jr’s pit box, and puts him in charge of everything happening in the 5/88 shop, nothing is going to change…..

    I also disagree that Jr wouldnt have more success if he drove the 48 car, I also think that JJ would miss the Chase if he was driving that junk that the 88 team puts on the track, LMFAO, because their cars are nothing but junk

  7. JR Says:
    September 10th, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Rick Pitino: Terry Labonte won two Cup Championships. He failed to make the field at Richmond this weekend…a track I know is one of his favorites. Was it because of his crew chief? Was it because he was driving junk? Was it because he forgot how to drive? No. It was because HIS TIME HAS PASSED!!! Junior is not the same racer he was five years ago. His TIME HAS PASSED!! I always get a kick out of people who make statements about the inner workings of a race team and make statements they would have no possible way of knowing if it’s factual or not. Why not pay a visit to the 88 team or 5 team shop and let the guys who work there know they are 3rd and 4th rate talent. You and Marybeth need to get together and have a little pity party.