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Looks like Junior fans have five more years to blame Hendrick

By admin | September 1, 2011

By Richard Allen

Although it had seemed a foregone conclusion for quite some time now, it was formally announced on Thursday morning that Hendrick Motorsports and driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had reached an agreement to keep the popular star in the #88 Chevrolet through the 2017 season.

Junior has driven for HMS since 2008. In that time he has scored one win, eighteen top-5s and 38 top-10 finishes. He has only qualified for the Chase for the Championship playoff once so far, but he appears destined to do so again this year.

Prior to moving to HMS, Junior had driven for Dale Earnhardt, Inc, the company founded by his late father. After suffering through two mediocre campaigns in his last three years there, many of the so called ‘Junior Nation’ placed much blame on Junior’s step-mother, Teresa Earnhardt, for his failings.

Once his deal with NASCAR power broker Rick Hendrick was announced midway through the 2007 season it was believed that the driver was on track for many more race wins and perhaps even a championship or two. Instead, Junior’s performance has not improved at all while with the ‘super team’. His lone win in Michigan was the result of a fuel mileage gamble that paid off.

Also, in his time with HMS there has been somewhat of a crew chief carousel with original pit boss and cousin Tony Eury, Jr. being replaced by Lance McGrew who was in turn replaced by former Jeff Gordon crew chief Steve Letarte.

The poor results by the fan favorite have led many of his partisans to transfer their disdain from the wicked step-mother to the conniving power broker. Many comments to this website as well as posts to message boards and the various social networking sites by fans have gone so far as to accuse Hendrick of using the money brought in by Junior to the organization through lucrative sponsorship deals to better the teams of Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. The crew chief changes are often pointed to as evidence of these dirty dealings.

While this may be only a small percentage of fans who believe such is the case, they are a vocal group.

The driver himself apparently does not share this view as he did not even seem to shop himself around with potential free agency looming.

“We’re excited to have everything formalized and announced,” said Rick Hendrick in an HMS press release. “Junior and I had a handshake agreement months ago, and we let other people work out the finer points from there. It was as simple and smooth as it gets.

“My feelings haven’t changed since the day he first signed with us. I’m committed as ever to putting him in the best possible situation to be successful and compete for wins and championships.”

This season, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s performance has improved markedly over the past two years in which he finished well back in the season standings. However, he has still yet to win a Sprint Cup race in well over 100 starts. Should his performance not improve to the point that he becomes a title contender and consistent race winner, Mr. Hendrick will no doubt remain as the top target of that group of fans who seek to place blame for their favorite driver’s failings.

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5 Responses to “Looks like Junior fans have five more years to blame Hendrick”

  1. Charles Says:
    September 2nd, 2011 at 8:18 am

    Rick Hendrick is without a doubt the big winner here!!!

    The money Jr provides HMS will help the other HMS teams as much as Jrs!

    Hendricks shrewd business ethics came out on top on this one!

    The Jr sponsorship alone is probably worth close to the two cars at Richard Petty Motorsports, or Chip Gannisi
    and until Carl Edwards new deal close to what Roush has!

    This would have been great for Jr to move mabe to Childress, who I still think he be better off!

    Dont feel bad for Hendrick he is laughing all the way to the bank! As for Jr, its his choice, just wish he would have scouted around! The way its going by the time he finishes his “new contract” with Hendrick his image will have faded!

  2. sylvia richardson Says:
    September 2nd, 2011 at 4:57 pm


  3. Richard Petersen Says:
    September 2nd, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    You know, I just don’t know about this one to be honest. I mean, I am a loyal true fan to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and will always support him, but I just don’t think this extension is such a great idea. Look, I mean, Rick Hendrick promised this man a moon with a fence around it. Wins and Championships. All this man has gotten is one lousy stinkin’ win on a fuel mileage race going on 4 years ago. Now, if you ask me, that just plan low and embarrassing for a driver who is NASCAR’s Most Popular. Now I am sure people are going to be saying “Oh, he is doing a lot better than he has been the last few years.” Well, yea okay, but your missing the point here, there is no wins to back up the statistics. You know to this day, I don’t know why he left DEI, I really don’t. He was the best driver out there and was winning races, all he and Teresa had to do was work out their differences. If it wasn’t for those blown engines in 2007, he would have for sure made the Chase. No matter what though, I will support Dale, but I feel this will not work at all.

  4. Bob Robbins Says:
    September 5th, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Maybe jr is not a very good driver? Have you thought about that. I still believe that Kyle Busch is really Dale Earnhardt’s son. He drives just like the Intimidator, does not care who he makes mad, and just wants to win. Jr. could not drive a nail.

  5. Charles Says:
    September 6th, 2011 at 4:16 pm


    Seems Jr was a good driver until he got to Hendricks!