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Talladega proves Junior’s undoing

By admin | October 7, 2008

By Richard Allen


Typically, when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads for Talladega one name immediately comes to mind, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Junior has won five times on the Alabama super speedway, including four in a row from the fall of 2001 to the spring of 2003.

Coming into the 2008 version of the Amp Energy 500 Earnhardt and his fans were still clinging to the hope that he could get himself back into the championship race. He entered last Sunday’s race 190 points behind Jimmie Johnson. A good finish by Junior coupled with poor finishes by the other Chase contenders could allow the sport’s most popular driver to climb back toward the top of the standings.

One of the two things Junior needed to happen did indeed take place. Several Chase participants experienced trouble at Talladega. Unfortunately for Earnhardt, he was one of them.

Although Junior has had his fair share of success on this track, the most recent races at the Talladega Superspeedway have not been so good. Since 2005, Junior’s best finish has been a 7th. He has had five finishes in that time frame of 20th or worse.

On lap 26 of this year’s race the #88 Hendrick Motorsports car went to the front of the pack for the first which brought on a very predictable cheer from the crowd. Junior went on to race near the front of the pack for much of the day.

Junior’s day and his remaining hopes of winning the Chase title went away on lap 173. Carl Edwards tapped the back of teammate Greg Biffle’s car triggering “The Big One”. Earnhardt found himself caught up in that wreck.

Earnhardt finished in 28th place. He is now in the 10th spot in the standings, 249 points out of first place.

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

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6 Responses to “Talladega proves Junior’s undoing”

  1. Larry Says:
    October 8th, 2008 at 9:26 am

    Yep it happens, I don’t see a championship for Jr this year. I do believe he will finish better than tenth in the final standings. But the reality of it is that he has had a pretty good season. I think if he had gone to Hendrick still driving the car of yesterday that his stats would look a lot different. But, that is a moot point, the truth is that the 88 team doesn’t have a grip on the new car, and have proved that race after race. Maybe by next year they will have enough information and Jr enough seat time so they will be competitive. Who knows….

  2. yankeegranny Says:
    October 8th, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Larry, I don’t think we watched the same race. Jr could put that car anywhere he wanted to on the track and not once did I hear him complain about the car. It was his race to lose, until Idiot boy Edwards decided to drive like a two-year old. I think he will do fine for the rest of the season and may win a few of the remaining races.

  3. Doug Says:
    October 8th, 2008 at 11:52 am

    I personally look forward to seeing “the most popular driver” lose every week. He probably couldn’t win in the 48 car.

  4. Brady Says:
    October 8th, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    granny, Larry was talking about the rest of the season. At Talladega, handling means nothing. All of the drivers could put their cars wherever they wanted. The 88 team can build fast CoTs but have demonstrated over and over their inability to make the right adjustments to keep up with the racetrack and be fast at the finish. I have never seen another team start off so many races so strong, looking like the car to beat, only to limp home to a decent finish. There is something missing on the 88 team and I hope it is as simple as getting a better handle on the CoT.

  5. dottie Says:
    October 9th, 2008 at 8:10 am

    i see junior Kicking your A$$ and junior nation helping out

  6. joe malone Says:
    October 9th, 2008 at 10:15 am

    I know where you live and i will bring JR. to your house LOL