Dale Earnhardt Jr will not compete in Saturday night’s Sprint Cup race at Charlotte. He will also skip the following race at Kansas.
Earnhardt suffered a concussion in the last-lap 25 car crash at Talladega last Sunday.
Dale Jr and Rick Hendrick have made the right decision in withdrawing from the 2 races, even though it means an end to Earnhardt’s championship hopes and an end to his 461 consecutive Cup starts.
Regan Smith will be behind the wheel of the No. 88 during Earnhardt’s absence.
This is not Earnhardt’s first concussion. The last time he did not reveal it to anyone until months later and continued to race even though he knew he was not at 100 percent.
This time he is putting the safety of his fellow competitors, as well as his own health and safety first. Even though it may mean fewer people attending the races and fewer people tuning in to watch on TV.
Dale Earnhardt Jr has done the right thing, and he will be back.
What do you think about Earnhardt’s decision, and how will it affect the race Saturday night?
Not if you ask Junior. He walks through the Sprint Cup garage with an extra bit of confidence today. His head a bit higher and a spark in his eye. Earnhardt knows he has what it takes to be a Sprint Cup Champion.
Today at Chicagoland Speedway he took the No. 88 Chevrolet from a 42nd place starting position to a solid 8th place finish. He is now 7th in the standings, 17 points out of the lead.
Not if you ask Steve Letarte, Crew Chief on the No. 88. Letarte has given Dale Earnhardt Jr consistently fast and well-handling cars all year long. He has given Dale Jr a reason to be confident.
Not if you ask the media. Not long ago reporters who would regularly ignore Earnhardt or question his will to win are now talking about Junior’s chances after a very consistent series of top 5 and top 10 finishes in 2012.
Not if you ask a Dale Earnhardt Junior fan. His fans are ever confident and feel that he has a shot to win almost any race.
What about you? Who are you picking for the 2012 Champion?
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?
After 200 wins in the Sprint Cup series Rick Hendrick called for a celebration at the Fillmore in Charlotte. Brad Paisley performed while current and past winners for Hendrick Motorsports celebrated. Here are the photos.
I have a very limited supply of these Dale Jr All Star cars on sale for $49.88
Saturday night’s Sprint All Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway is set to be one wild ride. With no points on the line drivers will be racing only for the gory of winning, a nice trophy, and oh, by the way a $1 million payday for the driver who brings home the checkered flag.
To put it simply, it is 90 laps for $1 million.
This is one race when it really is “checkers or wreckers,” and “I’ll bring back the trophy or the steering wheel!”
“It’s win or nothing” says Jeff Gordon, a three-time All Star winner.
But not just an All Star event, the race is also a tune-up for the following week’s 600 mile race on the same track. Drivers who find the right set-up for the All Star duel will have an advantage when the 600 rolls around. In 2010 Kurt Busch won the All Star and went on to win the 600.
5 segments will make up Saturday night’s All Star race. 4 20 lappers, and a 10 lap finale for $1 million.
So far Dale Earnhardt Jr is not qualified for the race, but he still has a chance to race his way in during the Sprint All Star Challenge before the main event. Should he not make it in there is still a chance he would get in with a fan vote.
Who do you think has the best shot to win?
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?