Here is a Dale Jr retro diecast car from the first Kentucky race in 2011.
Dale Earnhardt Jr did not have the fastest car at the start of the Quicken Loans 400. But 400 miles later he did as the No. 88 displayed in the No. 1 position on the scoring pylon. Earnhardt started the race 17th and quickly fell back to 25th.
But 11 laps into the race crew chief Steve Letarte called for a spring rubber and a chassis adjustment on the black, Batman sponsored No. 88 and the car came to like after that.
By lap 70 Earnhardt passed pole-sitter Marcos Ambrose for the lead and quickly pulled away.
Earnhardt took the lead for the final time on lap 172 and never looked back for the final 28 laps.
The crowd in the grandstands roared their approval until there were only 5 laps to go. That’s when an eerie silence fell over the speedway except for the sounds of the engines. Fans seemed to be holding their breath waiting for something bad to happen. It didn’t.
With the confidence Dale Jr has been showing in 2012, along with the consistent finishes, it seemed that he was on the verge of winning. Today he closed the deal.
The win sets Earnhardt up for a championship run as he now sits 4 points out of the lead.
With the “when are you going to win again” question answered by Junior his fans have another question to ask.
“When are you going to win again?”
What do you think of Dale Earnhardt Jr’s latest win?
I have a very limited supply of these Dale Jr All Star cars on sale for $49.88
The following is a guest post.
By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
RICHMOND, Va. — One of these days — and that day may come very soon — Dale Earnhardt Jr. will win a Sprint Cup race and put an end to what several writers have facetiously called NASCAR’s “long national nightmare.”
Earnhardt last tasted victory in the Cup series on June 15, 2008 at Michigan, not quite halfway through the first year of a lucrative contract with Hendrick Motorsports.
Since that race, Earnhardt has changed crew chiefs twice, a testament to his struggles to master the new racecar NASCAR introduced in 2007 and incorporated into the series full-time in 2008. He finished 25th in the final standings in 2009 and 21st in 2010.
When owner Rick Hendrick’s bold reshuffling of personnel after the 2010 season matched Earnhardt with Steve Letarte, Jeff Gordon’s former crew chief, Earnhardt’s performance improved. In 2011, he qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup for the first time since 2008 and ended the season seventh in the standings.
Earnhardt’s performance this year has put to rest any notion that last year’s success with Letarte was merely the sort of honeymoon that sometimes accompanies a crew chief change. Yes, Earnhardt’s winless streak grew to 138 races Saturday night at Richmond, but consider the rest of the story.
Since his last victory in 2008, Earnhardt has finished second seven times and third four times. Two of those runner-up finishes have come this year, most recently on Saturday night. Likewise, Earnhardt has fashioned two of his third-place runs this season, giving him four top-three finishes in nine races this year.
In seven of nine races, he has finished in the top 10. As a measure of his consistency this season, Earnhardt’s WORST finish this season is a 15th at Bristol. In the third race of the season, at Las Vegas, Earnhardt led more laps (70) than he had all last year (52).
Saturday night’s runner-up finish propelled Earnhardt to second in the Cup standings, five points behind series leader Greg Biffle.
All the numbers argue that Earnhardt is every bit as close to a breakthrough win as he believes he is.
A newfound maturity behind the wheel is part of the equation. When Hendrick announced the pairing with Letarte, one of Earnhardt’s first reactions was that he would have to tone down his language on the radio — because Letarte’s wife and children would be listening.
As a consequence, the invective that permeated Earnhardt’s radio chatter with cousin Tony Eury Jr., who served as crew chief until mid-2009, has all but disappeared.
“I’ve always been uncensored, (but) I think I’ve gotten a lot better since working with Steve,” Earnhardt said Friday before opening practice at Richmond. “Obviously, Steve is not family, and there are things you can say to your family, and you won’t say those things to other people.”
Instead of cussing his car, Earnhardt has learned to choose his words more carefully, and the quality of his feedback has improved.
“He’s definitely made me more accountable . . . for the words I choose to use and how I choose to describe the car to him,” Earnhardt said of his crew chief. “He’s not going to put up with me verbally abusing him or the equipment. I wouldn’t expect anything less than him being a professional as well.”
The performance on the racetrack is a litmus test of just how proficient the driver/crew chief collaboration has become.
When Rick Hendrick hired Earnhardt in 2008, his stated goal was to win races and championships. Those who scoffed at the notion and insisted that Earnhardt was merely a cash cow with a gift for moving merchandise from his fleet of trackside trailers are about to stop laughing.
Earnhardt will win a race this season, sooner rather than later, and he’ll likely win more than one. Hendrick will get his coveted 200th Cup win, and Earnhardt may be the one to deliver it.
That achievement would pale in comparison, however, to an 11th Cup title for the organization. Given the consistency of Earnhardt’s performance this year, seats at the head table for the Sprint Cup awards banquet aren’t out of the question for the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet and his crew chief.
Have an opinion on this? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Just arrived! Check out this diecast.
Forbes has named Jimmie Johnson America’s Most Influential Athlete for the second straight year.
6 of the top 10 on the list are NFL quarterbacks. No. 7 on the list is the only other NASCAR driver in the top 10 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt was 3rd on the list last year. Jeff Gordon also appeared last year but he did not make this year’s cut
“It is just a huge honor,” said Johnson. “I think it’s very good for NASCAR.
The rankings are based on public opinion polls conducted by Nielsen and E-poll. 1100 US adults were surveyed. The poll measured each athlete’s likability and their marketing influence toward consumers.
He has 5 NASCAR championships, but is Jimmie Johnson really more influential than Tim Tebow (No. 2), or Peyton Manning (No. 3), or Dale Earnhardt Jr (No> 7)? After all, Earnhardt has been voted NASCAR’s popular driver year after year.
I suppose the answer depends on who you ask. Forbes did not say who the 1,100 people were who were polled. Pose the same question to a group of race fans at Talladega and the results could be altogether different.
If influential means being liked and having the ability to represent sponsors and influence purchases then who is NASCAR’s Most Influential Driver?
Dale Earnhardt Jr had a confident tone even after disaster struck during Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout. The race ended in a crash for Junior.
“I like this kind of racing better,” Earnhardt said, talking about the big pack style of racing that Daytona is famous for. “At least I know what to expect. I feel like I have a better chance with this style than I did last year for damn sure.”
“You just hold your damn car where it needs to be and not drive around like an idiot,” Dale Jr explained. “If you want to drive your car in a straight line and be sensible it is possible.
Pack racing fits Earnhardt driving style better. He is a calculating driver when it comes to superspeedway racing. Always thinking a step ahead.
Earnhardt described how the car drives with NASCAR’s new aero package designed to eliminate 2 by 2 tandem racing. “There‘s just a massive closing rate, said Earnhardt.”If you get bogged down guys can just fly around you.”
Earnhardt hopes the Daytona 500 will go a little smoother than the Shootout. “Being 500 miles guys might use a little better judgment, but I wouldn’t count on it. It’s a pretty big deal to win and it’s going to be a lot of guys pretty excited about their prospects of winning it. Still pretty much any car can win. The lottery’s still there for the whole field.”
Earnhardt has a fast car. He qualified 3rd on Sunday afternoon. Next up are the Gatorade Dual 150s.
What do you think about this style of racing so far?
Dale Jr said he isn’t done with racing any time soon, but he does talk about what he plans to do when he hangs the helmet up. This may be a pretty short video but Dale Jr answers some pretty big questions in it like:
- Why he would retire from racing.
- Where he would race at if not in the Cup series.
- How long he plans to drive.
- Would he consider becoming a Cup car owner?
- Would he consider a 2nd career in broadcasting?
- Watch this and please leave your thoughts in the comments
Is Dale Earnhardt Jr ready to retire from NASCAR? I don’t think so – but Jimmy Spencer does.
“Judging by the way he’s racing and acting, Dale Earnhardt Jr. looks ready to hang it all up…” said Spencer in an article on SPEED.
Mr. Spencer called Earnhardt out for asking about the Redskins game over the team radio during the Dover race recently, and questioned Earnhardt’s focus on racing.
Jimmy Spencer feels that Dale Jr does not have the same passion for NASCAR as his father had, and that even Kurt Busch has more interest in NASCAR than Junior.
If you believe Jimmie Spencer then Dale Jr is losing fans week after week to the likes of Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. I don’t know of one person who has made that switch – do you?
Are Dale Earnhardt Jr fans disappointed and frustrated? Yes, but not with Junior – they are frustrated with his lack of support and competitive equipment. Dale Jr himself is frustrated too.
Maybe Jimmy Spencer has a better idea of what is going on in the No. 88 camp than everyone else. He is a former driver and current TV commentator. What do you think about his views?
Take a Tour of Dale Earnhardt Jr’s JR Motorsports race shop. This behind the scenes look will show you areas not open to the public. What do yo think? Let me know in the comments.