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Now, when will Junior win again?

By admin | June 18, 2008

By Richard Allen


Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won a race driving for Hendrick Motorsports…finally.

Earnhardt’s move to the powerful NASCAR team was one of the most publicized and talked about events in all of sports last year. Racing’s most popular driver teaming up with the sport’s most potent team made for unlimited potential. Marketing opportunities abounded. And almost certainly, according to many fans, competitors and media types, the wins would come in abundance.

Well, Junior took the checkered flag in the LifeLock 400 at the Michigan International Speedway this past Sunday. However, it was not exactly a dominating performance. As a matter of fact, the win came as a result of a fuel mileage gamble when Junior managed to coast his sputtering car across the finish line on fumes. This is not the type of win that was envisioned when he accepted this ride.

Granted, a win is a win no matter how it is achieved. There are no asterisks or any other notation to somehow lessen the magnitude of the victory. As hungry as Junior and his fans were for a win after 76 consecutive races without a trip to victory lane, it is doubtful anyone in “Junior Nation” cared how it came about.

But, with all of that said, the question is when will Junior win again? And, are there to be some of those dominating performances everyone expected?

One thing that needs to be taken into consideration is this has not been a typical Hendrick Motorsports season. Junior’s win was only the second for HMS this year. And to his credit, Junior has been the organization’s most steady driver thus far. He sits third in the overall standings, just 84 points behind leader Kyle Busch.

Now, it is up to Junior and his team to prove this win was not some sort of fluke, as some might label it. It is time for him to go out and win convincingly rather than coast in ahead of the pack under caution.

And more, it is also up to Hendrick Motorsports to regain their prominence. Last year at this time HMS had ten wins while this year they have two. Four time series champion Jeff Gordon has not earned a single checkered flag thus far and Casey Mears has but two Top 10 finishes. Now, only Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson have managed wins for the Chevrolet powerhouse.

It may very well be that HMS is on the verge of a breakout and the wins may start to pile up, but they have not shown that potential so far in 2008.

So, perhaps the question is not really when will Junior win again but rather will he become a dominate force on the track as well as at the souvenir trailer? One win, especially one taken on a fuel mileage gamble, is not enough to answer that question. It may be that now his team will get on a roll, or it may be that the LifeLock 400 will be the high water mark of his season. Time will tell.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

Topics: Articles |

5 Responses to “Now, when will Junior win again?”

  1. Mark Miller Says:
    June 19th, 2008 at 7:38 am

    Dale Earnhardt, Jr. = Danica Patrick

    Over rated

    Over publicized

    Both only able to win on fuel mileage even though they drive for great teams.

    Both taking advantage of some situation:
    Dancia taking advantage of being an attractive woman
    Junior taking advantage of being Senior’s boy.

  2. yankeegranny Says:
    June 19th, 2008 at 7:52 am

    To Mark Miller and any other doubters; A WIN IS A WIN IS A WIN. GET OVER IT. The first person to cross the finish line is the winner, no matter how they get there. Unless, you are a baseball player on steroids, or the season is extended; then you get an asterisk next to the win. Great call Tony Jr. and priceless scanner chatter the last few laps; those two could do stand up comedy.

  3. Nancy Says:
    June 19th, 2008 at 9:26 am

    It is wrong to cheapen a fuel mileage win by ANY team, especially at Michigan which almost always comes down to fuel mileage. Fuel mileage racing has not been a forte of the 88 team (or the 8 team) in the past, so this win shows how far they have come in their preparation this season.

    The 88 team has been consistently one of the top teams all season in nearly every statistical category that is a good predictor for future success.

    Here are facts: The 88 is tied with the 99 for the most top ten finishes with 11, is second in top five finishes to the 18, third in points behind the 18 and 31, third in average finish, and fourth in laps led.

    This fan is very satisfied with the season that the 88 is having thus far.

  4. Larry Says:
    June 19th, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Mark you have finally done it!! You have changed the world, we Jr fans have seen the error of our ways THANK YOU! Mark , you are truely the savior of lost fans ….NOT!!!!! Jr won and we Jr fans will follow him no matter how or even if ,he ever wins again. Yes Mark we are like sheep going to the slaughter, JR JR JR JR ……. Give up your crusade, you don’t make a difference.

  5. Rick Says:
    June 19th, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    This kid can’t seem to get a break. If Hendrick were dominant this year, Jr. would be criticized because it would be the equipment that makes him win. HMS is struggling, so now it’s a conspiracy that he won at Michigan, or that he is 3rd in the points. “Hendrick must be giving Jr the best stuff”. “When will he really win?” Everyone likes him because they liked his Dad”.

    It wouldn’t matter where he sits or what he does, the few jerkoffs who have to bash this kid would find something to tarnish it. Do you really think he is so liked because the majority of the fans just want to be in with the majority? Do you really think that Nascar fans are that stupid? Absolute BS. Jr. is a gentleman on the track, and off the track. He’s a top driver and is doing a much better job than could be expected with the slump HMS is having.

    It’s gotta be a meek and miserable way to spend your Sunday’s to try and find everything wrong with someone. I actually feel sorry for you sorry SOB’s.