By admin | May 12, 2011
By Richard Allen
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. made a mistake during a pit stop in Saturdayâ€™s Sprint Cup Series race at the Darlington Raceway. Considering the last few years of this driverâ€™s career, that was not really a shocking development. However, there was a big difference in what happened last week in Darlington and what has happened any number of other times over the last few years.
First, and perhaps most importantly, Junior and the #88 Hendrick Motorsports team recovered for a 14th place finish. How many times since this driver joined this organization has a similar mistake snowballed into a major ordeal, ending in a finish outside the top-25?
By holding on for a reasonable result, Earnhardt was able to maintain his fourth place spot in the Sprint Cup standings. In years past, pit road mistakes led to much worse finishes and dropped positions in the points.
But perhaps as notable as his recovery on the scoreboard was Juniorâ€™s post-race gesture toward his team. On other occasions in days gone by Junior might very well have engaged in some sort of team radio argument with former crew chiefs Tony Eury, Jr. or Lance McGrew. Instead, after Saturdayâ€™s race the popular driver called his team together and offered an apology.
â€œI wanted to tell those guys that my focus was strong,â€ Junior explained of his actions. â€œIt wasnâ€™t because of a lack of focus or a lack of concentration.
â€œI was just trying to get a little bit too much and Iâ€™ll try to minimize mistakes going forward and to continue working hard and loading up great race cars to take to the race track and weâ€™ll be fine,â€ he added.
In recent years, Juniorâ€™s focus, and even his desire, has been questioned by many who follow the sport. This past weekend in Darlington went a long way toward proving he is truly turning a corner under new crew chief Steve Letarte.
Does NASCAR need Harvick/Busch type incidents? http://racingwithrich.com/?p=1427
Bloomquist testing for Roush Yates at 411 Motor Speedway http://tennesseeracer.com/?p=1639
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