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Junior Nation endures another year without celebration

By admin | June 15, 2009

By Richard Allen

As a longsuffering fan of the Cincinnati Reds I can empathize with the fans of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. I know what it’s like to go long periods of time with little to celebrate. The Reds have not had a winning season since the year 2000. Junior has now gone over a year without a win for the second time in his career.

However, other than losing often, there are few other similarities between the Reds and Junior. The Reds play in a medium sized market and do not have massive amounts of money to spend that teams such as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have.

Junior, on the other hand, has everything going for him. He is the New York Yankees of NASCAR in a sense. After all, he drives for the most powerful organization in racing, Hendrick Motorsports. That company has won the last three Sprint Cup championships, so there is no Reds like mid-market claim for Junior.

Also, his team receives the most funding of any in the sport. The deals with Pepsi Cola and National Guard to sponsor his car are rumored to be in excess of $30 million per year. Funding is certainly not the reason for poor performance here.

Junior last won on June 15, 2008 at the Michigan International Speedway. This past Sunday marked the one year anniversary of that win. Like Sunday’s winner, Junior’s teammate Mark Martin, he coasted across the line on fumes to complete a fuel mileage stretch run for the win.

Prior to this current winless streak, Junior went from May 6, 2006 to June 15, 2008, a span of over two years, without a win.

One common theme I’ve noticed, either in comments made to articles about Junior’s lack of success on this site or the same on other sites, is that his fans are quick to point out that his father had not achieved even as much as Junior has by this age.

Well, Junior is now 34 years old. When Dale Earnhardt, Sr. was 34 he had won one championship and 15 races. However, in the next year, when Senior turned 35, is when he really stepped up his game.

Right now, it does not look like Junior is stepping up his game. As a matter of fact, his game appears to be taking backward steps.

As for the Reds, I’ll keep hoping.

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

Topics: Articles |

9 Responses to “Junior Nation endures another year without celebration”

  1. SB Says:
    June 16th, 2009 at 6:09 am

    So, you continue to be a Reds fan whether they win or lose. That makes you a good fan. Why do you think fans of Junior, or any other driver, should stay a fan if they are winning? It’s easy to be a fan of a ‘winner’, if you define the term as a team or individual who wins races or games. Some people define a winner by how they behave (especially if they aren’t winning), the example they set, and how honestly they play the game. Bill Elliot was the most popular driver for years after he was a consistant winner, yet no one questioned his fans loyalty. Why can’t you, and much of the media, just accept the fact that race fans seem to admire Junior? I guess race fans think that winning isn’t the only thing that matters.

  2. Overa88ted Says:
    June 16th, 2009 at 8:01 am

    You can put lipstick on a OVER-HYPED, OVER-RATED, AVERAGE AT BEST DRIVER? driver, and in the end JR. is still a OVER-HYPED, OVER-RATED, AVERAGE AT BEST? driver. 2009 is the 6th year of the “FARCE FOR THE CHUMPIONSHIP”, and for the 3rd time JR. will not make THE “FARCE”. He may have moved up to 18th in the standings after Michigan, but fell roughly 50 points futher behind.

  3. The Old Guy Says:
    June 16th, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Rich,

    I read your articles every day and enjoy them.

    I do understand that Jr., like the Reds, has a a lot of fans.

    However, the sports media doesn’t spend even 1% of the time covering a losing baseball club as they do covering a driver who has won only one race in the last three years and is so far from contention for the championship that only a miracle would help at this point.

    It’s great that Jr. has all of the fans he could ever want. But, please, stop shoving Jr. down the throat of those of us who aren’t Jr. fans.

  4. MISSU3 Says:
    June 16th, 2009 at 8:48 am

    When you are a fan of a “media personality” it doesn’t matter whether he wins or loses. Jr. is a prime example of “nice guys finish last.” There are guys who haven’t been in Cup as long as Jr. who have more than twice as many wins as he does. JJ is a prime example of wins AND championships. It’s ok to be a fan of someone who doesn’t win much, it’s just the nation has made such a joke of Jr. by declaring him “the greatest driver alive!” and blaming EVERYONE but him for his losses. Is he a top 12 or 15 driver? Absolutely, but championship material? Not in this day and age.

  5. Ginger Says:
    June 16th, 2009 at 9:53 am

    What SB said times 2. Richard, for the billionth time, Jr is not his father, nor are you your father. Jr drives more respectfully than his Dad and has many more fans than his father did. As Jr would say, it is what it is. Accept it.

  6. Overa88ted Says:
    June 16th, 2009 at 11:53 am

    You can put lipstick on a OVER-HYPED, OVER-RATED, AVERAGE AT BEST? driver, but JR. is still just a OVER-HYPED, OVER-RATED AVERAGE AT BEST? driver. 2009 is the 6th year for the “FARCE FOR THE CHUMPIONSHIP” and JR. WILL NOT qualify for the “FARCE” for the 3rd time. JR. moved up to 18th in the standings after Michigan, but fell another 50 points or so behind.

  7. midasmicah Says:
    June 16th, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    I like to comment on a number of items. That Junior is finally falling prey to the expectations of being Dale Sr’s son is not a surprise. It has to be tiresome, almost a burden. I’m not a Junior fan, but I’m hoping he comes out of this situation for the better. It cannot be fun to be the offspring of an icon.
    Also I cannot completely let nas$car off in the Mayfield situation. They have the reputation of being nothing more and nothing less than the bully on the block. Just ask Carl Long. Ask a lot of the former nas$car fans and they will tell you the same thing. nas$car has forgotten their roots and turned their backs on the very people that took them to the top. I’m one of those people. Bring in honda, nissan, etc. and really watch an exodus. Thanks for listening.

  8. LB Says:
    June 16th, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    i LOVE ROOTING FOR THE LITTLE GUY , I WAS A RICKY RUDD AND BILL ELLIOTT FAN WHEN THE OWNED THEIR OWN TEAM , AS I WAS AN ALAN KULWICKI FAN , I NOW ROOT FOR ROBBIE GORDON AND MY FAV DRIVER NOW IS JAUN PABLO MONTOYA , ITS EASY BEING A JEFF GORDON OR JOHNSON FAN I LIKE THE OLD SCHOOL RACER I KNOW R GORDON CAN BE A BABY BUT HE’S DOING IT HIS WAY , NOT SOME MEGA CORP TEAM THAT HAS RUINED NASCAR AND PUSHED RACERS LIKE DAVE BLANEY TO THE CURB

  9. Judi Wicker Says:
    June 24th, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    I love Dale Earnhardt Jr if he NEVER wins another race. He is the BEST!!!!!!!!!!

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