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Thank you for speaking your mind, Dale Jr.

By admin | August 16, 2009


By Richard Allen

Perhaps there was something in the water in Michigan but NASCAR drivers actually showed some personality and dared to speak their minds this past weekend. (More on Kyle Busch and Brian Vickers in another piece.)

Leading the pack was Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who decided to let his feelings be known about the fact that NASCAR racing is simply not very exciting more often than not.

Before going any further, it would be easy to say that Junior is merely complaining because he is not winning and this is simply the whining of a guy who wishes he was doing better. Well, Earnhardt is not doing well and it is a fact that his performance has dropped off drastically since the inception of the Car of Tomorrow. However, he is not the only driver complaining, he is just one of the few who has dared to question NASCAR in public.

Every race all any fan has to do to hear virtually every driver complain about the CoT and the lack of competitive racing is listen to a scanner at the track or Trackpass from the computer. Almost every driver grumbles to their crews about how hard the car is to drive and the near impossibility of staging a competitive race with the CoT beast.

However, when those drivers get out of their cars there is rarely a harsh word about the car, the tires or anything else that might raise the ire of the sanctioning body. Prior to this weekend only a few such as Kyle Busch and the pre-owner Tony Stewart have said publicly what they will say to their crews.

The main target of Junior’s scorn was the lack of competitive racing currently in the sport.

“What I’m getting at is I think we need to open our eyes a little bit,” Earnhardt declared. “Everyone. NASCAR could probably be a little more urgent in improving our product, where the ultimate result is great, exciting racing that the fans will enjoy, that the drivers enjoy, so everyone is happy.”

You mean the product is not that good? Races in which cars a strung out with little passing and winners decided on pit road rather than the track is not what fans want to see? How dare Junior to say such a thing.

Why is it that the race in Pocono, with its last 50 laps of exciting racing, was so talked about? The answer is because it was an oddity.

Junior also added that before the addition of double-file restarts, 95% of the race wasn’t worth the price of the ticket. The empty seats in Indianapolis and other tracks speaks volumes about that statement.

“I’m not trying to start a crusade against nobody or cause nobody any problems,” Earnhardt said. “I think the drivers, myself included, we would all work together with NASCAR to do this. I’m just trying to remind everyone of the optimal goal and prize for us is to have better racing.

“Even when things are good, we shouldn’t rest on any success we may be having. We’re not really where we want to be, I don’t think, as a sport. We need to do things to excite corporate America and excite the fans. We need to be proactive immediately to make that happen.”

Corporate America is not excited when they are being asked to continue funneling huge amounts of money into a sport that is seeing lowered attendance and television ratings on an almost weekly basis? The fact that three major sponsors, Lowe’s, DeWalt and AllState have announced they are reducing or even eliminating altogether their role in NASCAR backs Earnhardt’s statement.

The fact that Junior was willing to speak out is refreshing. It’s about time someone of his stature did in a significant way. If others would follow it could serve to better the sport, and that’s what everyone has as the ultimate goal, the betterment of the sport.

Of course, NASCAR handled the criticism as they always do. NASCAR President Mike Helton insisted that “the racing we’ve got on the racetrack is as good as I’ve seen it in a long time.”

There’s no way to argue with a statement so far from reality. NASCAR will point to bogus statistics such as the number of cars to finish on the lead lap and lead changes to back Helton’s claim. They just will forget to mention the ‘debris’ cautions so often used to artificially bunch the field and the fact that so many of those lead changes take place during pit stop sequences both under green and under caution.

Way to go Junior! Glad to see you were willing to speak your mind. Hopefully, those comments will open the door for more of the same. And most importantly, those comments will hopefully lead to an improved product.

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 “Thank you for speaking your mind, Dale Jr.”

  1. Larry Says:
    August 17th, 2009 at 3:18 am

    After Helton and Brian talk to Jr., he will be just like Tony was after they took him to the trailer. Helton will explain to Jr. what a privilege it is to be a Nascar Driver and if you want to keep driving you need to shut and keep sucking. I absolutely agree with what Jr. said. It is all true. If what Helton says is true then why aren’t the TV Ratings going out the roof? You can blame the lack of crowds at the track on the economy but if they don’t have any money why aren’t they sitting at home watching the races? I have heard announcers including ole DW talk about Nascar needs to tweak this car to get better racing but it all seems to be falling on deaf ears. And, everyone keeps bragging on how safe this COT is. Well, I’m not so sure it’s the car or the “Hans” Device they are using. If Earnhardt had been using one, he would probably still be alive. I have seen some brutal wrecks with the old cars especially at Daytona and Talladega and I’m not necessarily buying this “COT” is that much safer. Anyway, if Nascar would allow these drivers to be themselves, you would find probably every crew chief and driver in the pits complaining about this car. I have given up on Nascar though. They just think they know everything and everyone else is stupid and doesn’t know what they are talking about.

  2. Rick Says:
    August 17th, 2009 at 4:01 am

    Start the week with foolishness like this article. The car will continue to improve even without drastic changes which would only mean the team with the most money will win which will mean lousier racing. The car is much better than it was last year and the races that it raced the year before. These debris cautions you bring up happened back in the good old days as well if or when cars back then didnt blow up or fail mechanically as there were so many also ran cars out there so often races couldnt get strung out as much of the field couldnt run long enough to have a green flag pit stop. The Nascar you talk of would be more like the ARCA of the last few years where therwe are five cars that can run fast while the remaining ones run seconds of the pace and look like the slower classes in a sports car race as they try to get out of the way. Sponsors have left the sport or reduced their financial commitment before and there is more competition for sponsorship now than ever before as other sports that typically didnt use this type of avenue now follow nascars lead in trying to attract dollars to their arenas.

  3. Andrew G Says:
    August 17th, 2009 at 5:58 am

    I like the COT now, and I am just beginning to like NASCAR again. I’m a JG fan through and through but the thing I love most about this season is the appearance of all the new faces in Victory Lane, and in the Top 5 and 10! This is so cool…let’s check the list…

    Brian Vickers - awesome win. This wasn’t a fuel mileage win…he was running hard…maybe let’s call it a fuel mileage “loss.” This team has been working, winning poles and flying up through the field.

    Sam Hornish Jr. - smashing into people even last year, and part of this year. The team is getting consistently better, and soon this guy will be in Victory Lane…and in a car that advertises fuel, no less. Hornish has some patience.

    Juan Pablo Montoya - I am so scared to see what happens when this guy gets into the Chase and stops holding back. It will be interesting.

    David Reutimann - ok he’s up and down.

    Joey Logano - Learning really quickly, and starting to get ticked off if he loses.

    At the beginning of this year, you could almost set your watch by the usual names just winning races and making the Chase. I think this year will be a turning point, and we’ll see records for new people in Victory Lane. Next year we’ll come back and see just how hungry these new drivers are.

    In a way, I almost consider it revenge for the Nationwide Series. The cup “Superstars” are going down and playing in Nationwide, and the “second stringers” are coming up and kicking ass in Cup. I love it!!!

    Now if only they would change the Chase, eliminating two cars from contention, every couple of races or something…that would be a kick-ass championship format.

  4. Marty Says:
    August 17th, 2009 at 7:37 am

    Nascar is not going to tell Dale Jr to sit down and shut up. They’ll listen…they may not jump but they will listen. Nascar is finding out how much they need Dale Jr. His recent failures are responsible for losses in ticket sales and TV ratings. Even diehard Earnhardt fans are not willing to spend money to follow him. Whether you love him or hate him, you better realize what a factor he is in the sport. Nascar knows….and they have heard him. More drivers need to speak up!

  5. RLynn Says:
    August 17th, 2009 at 11:53 am

    AMEN TO THIS ARTICLE! I wish someone would drive this freaking car up Mike Helton’s and the rest of the NASCAR mafia butts! Racing hasn’t been the same since this started. you watch one car dominate the whole darn race, and watch the rest of them just try to catch up. BORING! I don’t watch them anymore like I used to, and I blame the NASCAR hard-headed, deaf to the public’s ears, (but they still get the big money) morons
    like Mike Helton and Brian France. Bill France Sr. & Jr. would roll over in their graves if they had to watch this
    bull crap racing. My husband asked me which race I wanted to go to, and I said the beach. The ocean is much more exciting. I am still a Dale Jr. fan and always will be, but I’ll be keeping up with him on this site and a few others. SHOVE IT HELTON!

  6. Charles Says:
    August 17th, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    I am glad Dale is speaking his mind at least!

    Richard keep speaking your mind, you are telling the truth! Dont back off!!!!!!!

    I would encourage all of Richards bloggers read this comment by another person who seems to be commenting on Richards article and being negative as well about the “sponsors leaving Nascar” once you read it you will see who he is commenting on!

    The comment is on todays “phillyblurb.com

  7. Ginger Says:
    August 17th, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Thank you for one of the most intelligent columns I’ve read today. Nascar is imploding, and the guys in charge just cannot see it. Many of us used to watch every race on Sunday. Now, we go have brunch and then to a movie or out to the lake. This car, these tracks, different networks and different starting times, races that are too long, rain, rain, rain are bad enough. But the race itself stinks. Not one driver on the track actually has his car under control. No side-by-side racing. The leader of the race usually just takes off and controls the rate of the other cars. I could go on and on, but my point is this. Until Brian France, Robin Pemberton, or Mike Helton open their eyes and realize “it’s not the economy stupid”, this mess will go on.

    Jr is right on message. He has been a part of this sport since he was born, and understands the big picture. Without the fans….there is no Nascar.

  8. Overra88ted Says:
    August 17th, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    Sounds to me like a whinning 25th place drive, who could win if he had better equipment. Well JR., you do have better quipment, and guess what? You still can’t win. So SHUT-UP and drive. Just another one of the 8,088,whatever million excuses for JR.

  9. Lou Says:
    August 17th, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    Jr is about the only one who can talk to the Nascar brass. Their brains are a base metal that has rusted shut. People are tuning out because they are boring us. Nascar needs Jr. much more than he needs them. They own the yard every one plays in but the crowd belongs to Jr.

    Even Jr can not keep them coming whith the big box racing they are putting on now. I used to watch every race, have been a fan for decades. I no longer watch. Even the highlights are not worth watching now. No side by side racing. All that is left is the parade. Never did see much reason to see a parade. After all one is about the same as any other.