Is Dale Earnhardt Jr a Support Driver for Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Team?
Jimmie Johnson did not win the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday without the help he received from teammate and drafting partner Dale Earnhardt Jr. If Earnhardt had gotten just an inch further back Johnson would never have made it. The margin of victory was that close – .002 seconds and a tie for one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history with 6 cars crossing the finish line virtually as one. Johnson grabbed the lead for the final time just 6 inches from the finish line.
Earnhardt was a good team player. He needs to put that one in the bank because Jimmie Johnson owes him big time.
Johnson knows it too. Jimmie Johnson gave Dale Earnhardt Jr the checkered flag that he picked up at the finish line, although Earnhardt seemed a little reluctant to accept it. I wonder what Dale Jr will do with that flag.
So why did Jimmie Johnson give Dale Jr the checkered flag?
“Just came to mind,” said Johnson flatly. “I handed it to him and he said ‘Man, I don’t want that.’ I said, Well, I have to give you something for the push and working with me. He said, ‘No, that’s what teammates do.’
“I smiled and I said take the damn flag. I’ll give you the trophy, too. He says, ‘No, I don’t want the trophy. I’ll take the flag, though.’
“Man, he’s a riot.” Johnson continued on the subject of Dale Jr. “You guys scan all the time but to hear him on the channel and Stevie and the things he talks about — can I have this channel more often just to listen?
As Johnson’s No. 48 Chevy raced toward the finish line it almost appeared that his left wheels crossed below the double-yellow line for a split second but no penalty was assessed by NASCAR.
“I was not focused on where that yellow line was,” Jimmie Johnson explained after the race. “I was more worried about causing a big pile up and luckily the 5 quit coming down and then the 24 pulled back up. So I don’t know where my left side tires were, but I’ve heard that a statement has been released and everything is cool. So I’m glad I’m not sitting here having to worry about that.
For a few seconds after the race it was unclear who had won. Then Dale Jr came on the radio and said “Hell, I think the 48 won.”
“I knew in my mind that if it that was the checkered, it was close, and I didn’t know if I had it won, said Johnson.
After the race No. 48 crew chief Chad Knaus summed it up with a quick radio call to Dale Earnhardt Jr: “Next one is on us, brother.”
So now it’s your turn to have your say. As always, you can vent or you can cheer. The floor is yours. Leave your thoughts in the comments below. And if you like this be sure to hit the Facebook Like Button.
Is Talladega Still Exciting?
Talladega is usually my favorite race track â€“ but Sundayâ€™s Amp Energy 500 was a long stretch of boredom interrupted occasionally by sheer terror.
The track officials at Talladega went as far as to get an Indian medicine man to remove any curses on the speedway on Wednesday before the race. How did that work? Not so good.Â I hope they can get their money back.
NASCARâ€™s new smaller restrictor plate combined with a last minute rule against bump drafting left drivers unable or unwilling to race. For most of the day they looked like Sunday drivers on I-20 rather than professional race car drivers at what should be the worldâ€™s fastest speedway.
Even Mark Martin said this was not a race. “Its not racing it’s just a different word and I don’t have a word for it,” said Martin.
Tony Stewart asked for someone on the team to tell him something â€“ anything â€“ on the radio to keep him entertained.
Kevin Harvick asked if his car had cruise control that would make his job a little easier. And that was while he was leading.
Ryan Newman was not happy with the way the race was run â€“ even after flipping his car and having to be cut from the wreckage. â€œI wish NASCAR would do something. It was a boring race for the fans,â€ said Newman.
â€œWeâ€™re supposed to be racing all day long and I believe weâ€™ve lost a little bit of that luster.â€
The crowd had a few reasons to cheer today. When Ryan Newman was cut from his badly wrecked race car and climbed out a huge roar erupted. The same thing happened every time Dale Earnhardt Jr took the lead.
But what kind of race is it when your championship leader rides around at the back of the field all day? When race cars look like they are in a parade â€“ not a race?
Did you think the Talladega race was exciting?
Brad Keselowski Wins in Wild Talladega Finish
Brad Keselowski did exactly what he had to do in the final two laps at Talladega. He tucked his nose under the rear bumper of Carl Edwards’ fast No. 99 Ford and drafted past his mentor and Nationwide series car owner Dale Earnhardt Jr as they came to the white flag, then Keselowski waited until the last possible moment to attempt a pass on the leader.
When Keselowski moved high on the track Edwards moved up to block. Edwards tried to block again when Keselowski moved to the low side – and Keselowski held his line, and held his foot on the gas, while making sure he did not cross Talladega’s double yellow line which would have disqualified him.
Carl Edwards’ block sent him spinning across the nose of Brad Keselowski’s car – then flying backwards into the catchfence in the tri-oval. The car didn’t miss going across the catchfence and into a spectator filled grandstand by much, which reminds us why NASCAR mandates restrictor plates at Talladega.
“He blocked and I wasn’t going to go below the yellow line,” said Brad Keselowski about the race-winning move. “I felt bad. I was watching Carl wreck in my mirror — but he put himself in that spot. I hope he’s OK!”
Dale Earnhardt Jr had to feel good with the 2nd place run – he would have been even happier to win – but the 2nd place finish should silence a few of the Dale Jr doubters who say he can’t win. Earnhardt’s pit crew stepped up their game, and gained Junior some positions on pit road in the race.
“The 99 and Brad hooked up,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr. “They are just a little bit faster and they moved up.Â They were comingÂ they were catching us and running the middle, and the middle had been a little quickerÂ I guess we showed our hand a little early, maybe a lap or two too early and everybody saw what they was going to have to do if they wanted a shot at winning.”
You would think Junior had actually won the race judging by the big smile on his face when he congratulated Keselowski in Victory Lane.
Brad Keselowski put NASCAR Nation on notice that he is the real deal by capturing his first win in just his fifth Sprint Cup Series start. Keselowski isn’t even running a full-time schedule in Sprint Cup.
The win puts Brad Keselowski in the All Star Race. Keselowski is a future star.
So was this a wild ride at Talladega or what?
Bubba Says Dale Jr Can’t Win Talladega
Controversial radio shock jock DJ Bubba Clem has called out not just Dale Earnhardt Jr – but the entire Junior Nation.
When Bubba made his predictions for Talladega, he made the statement that “any Hendrick driver can win, except the 88.” He went on to say that “the new car of tomorrow has accentuated that Junior is a mediocre driver.”
Obviously, Bubba hasn’t been paying attention. Dale Earnhardt Jr has 5 wins at Talladega, including 4 in a row at the 2.66 mile Superspeedway, and he almost always runs well there.
So what makes Dale Jr so good at Talladega? “I go in with a real good attitude,” said Earnhardt. “When you go into something with a good attitude you normally get good results.”
“Dad was real good at it. We always just put a little extra attention into those races and those race cars that we took to those tracks. We spent a little more time with them, and we just take it very, very seriously.”
Bubba Clem, better known on the radio as Bubba the Love Sponge, is an outspoken radio personality on Sirius Satellite Radio’s Howard Stern channel. Â He’s set to be the Grand Marshall for Saturday’s Aarons 312 Nationwide race. I doubt he’ll get a warm reception from Junior’s fans in Talladega
Bubba went on to say that “Dale is on the back side of the learning curve for the COT.”
“One way for Hendrick to figure out whether it’s Junior or not is to give him Chad Knaus,” said Bubba.
If Rick Hendrick wants to put the No. 88 in Victory Lane then swapping Tony Eury Jr and Chad Knaus is not the answer. That will never happen.
Chad Knaus and Dale Earnhardt Jr would never have the chemistry that Knaus and Jimmie Johnson have.
I think Bubba is flat wrong. I am predicting that Dale Jr will win Talladega, and become the 4th different driver from Hendrick Motorsports to win in the last 4 races.
Do you think Bubba is right or wrong?
Photo Courtesy Hendrick Motorsports
Amp Energy 500 — Have Your Say
At least there was no controversy in Sunday’s Amp Energy 500 at Talladega — except for a few issues, namely:
- Did Regan Smith go below the yellow line to pass Tony Stewart, or did Smoke force him down there?
- Was Carl Edwards paying attention in the driver’s meeting when NASCAR mandated that driver’s not practice bump drafting in the turns and the dogleg?
- How many times can the TV broadcast crew cover for NASCAR and Goodyear for using a tire that simply explodes like a bomb with no warning? After all, NASCAR will throw a caution for debris in a heartbeat. If there was really something on the track that these drivers kept running over, don’t you think there would be a caution.
- Will NASCAR issue a formal Supreme Court ruling type of explanation as to why Regan Smith actually finished 18th — and did not win the race?
Other than that — I thought it was one of the best Talladega races I have seen in a while. Tell Teresa Earnhardt not to turn off the lights at DEI just yet.
So go ahead and hit your keyboards right now and tell everyone what you really thought about Talladega.