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.
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