By admin | June 29, 2011
By Richard Allen
If Jimmie Johnson was in the final year of his contract and re-signed with Hendrick Motorsports without so much as even testing the waters to see what else was out there, no one could blame him. After all, he’s won five consecutive Sprint Cup titles.
But on the other hand, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. actually is in the last year of his contract with Hendrick Motorsports and it at least appears from the outside looking in that he is going to re-sign with little or no shopping around.
Unlike the afore mentioned Johnson, Junior has had no such success during his tenure in Rick Hendrick’s organization. Since moving to HMS from Dale Earnhardt, Inc, the popular driver has won only one Sprint Cup race, and that was a fuel mileage stretch in Michigan back in 2008. In that same season he scored ten top-5s and sixteen top-10 finishes but has not come close to those type numbers since.
It would seem that with the bargaining power this driver brings to the table in terms of sponsorship marketability, those results would not be of the kind that would prompt a ‘no-brainer’ contract renewal on his part.
Even though Carl Edwards has enjoyed considerably more success than Junior in the same time period with his Roush Fenway Racing team, it has become known of late that he is at least looking at other options in this year of his contract expiration. Shouldn’t Junior have done the same?
Joe Gibbs Racing has an opening being that they field one fewer car than is allowed by NASCAR. Why not see what they could offer?
Roush Fenway Racing is struggling to secure sponsorship so they might have been willing to concede a great deal to bring Junior’s sponsorship magnetism to their organization.
And with the one year anniversary of Earnhardt’s Nationwide Series win while driving the Wrangler car with involvement from Richard Childress Racing, why not see what his father’s old team might offer?
Rick Hendrick announced a few days ago that the renewal of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s contract was in its final stages. Perhaps there was some behind the scenes shopping around of this driver by his handlers but it would be hard to imagine such could be kept quiet if it did indeed take place. It just seems as though the most financially secure driver in the sport could have taken the time to see if there might be a more productive situation for him out there somewhere.
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