Why Should Dale Earnhardt Jr Retire?

retiring? Not so fast.

Retiring? Not so fast.

Lately the rumor mill has been churning regarding Dale Earnhardt Jr retiring after 2015 or 2016.

Why should Dale Earnhardt retire when he has two wins and sits third in the driver standings? Is he going to be a 7 time champion? No. There’s only one driver who has a chance at that in the current field for at least 6 years and that’s Jimmie Johnson.

Earnhardt has been hammered every day of his life since his Father died by those who blindly hate him for not dominating every race of every year since that tragic day. That is the real tragedy.

No one should have to be judged on the accomplishments of their Father. Were that the case, the children of every famous world leader, racing driver, astronaut and start-up king would be doomed to a life of deafening silence and reclusivism.

Earnhardt has shown that he has the ability to compete at the highest level at virtually any track he has visited.

It’s really a disturbing trend to espouse hate behind the curtain of the Internet where any fat bellied, underwear-in-the-basement loser can paint him or herself as someone they are not.

It’s a clear sign of low self-esteem, self-loathing and a drive by mentality.

Prior to the Internet those fans who have a penchant for vitriol had to sit alone with themselves because no one face to face wanted to hear that type of hate.

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 14:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, practices for the 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 14: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, practices for the 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

There is a clear cut distinction between those fans who prefer one driver over another and those who pick one driver to use to vent their anger at having been a flat-liner or failure in their own lives.

Earnhardt makes a boatload of money, has a smoking hot fiance’ and he’s competing week in and week out for wins. On the other hand if it were me I might consider taking the money and his soon-to-be-wife and run. Who needs this kind of bashing?

But, so far, he hasn’t been satisfied to take the money and run. He wants to win and compete. He’s doing just that.

The current evidence dictates that he seems to have no intention of retiring just yet. He’s outperforming Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson, not to mention Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. Seems like a top dog season to me. Why even think about quitting?

Should Dale Jr win the Championship, and he just might, he’s likely to go for at least two more seasons before buying his own island, or North Carolina.

Far too much money, prestige and self-esteem have been gained to quit now or in the foreseeable future.

If you absolutely hate Dale Earnhardt Jr, you might consider just how much you hate yourself.

Earnhardt Jr. Thinks He, Team Are Ready For First CMS Victory

Dale Earnhardt has not won a points race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, something he hopes to change in this weekend's Coca-Cola 600.

Dale Earnhardt has not won a points race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, something he hopes to change in this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600.

CONCORD, N.C. – It wouldn’t be difficult, not at all, to surmise that Dale Earnhardt Jr. badly wants to win at Charlotte Motor Speedway – and to do so this weekend in the Coca-Cola 600 would achieve a personal goal.

After all, for all of his talent and technical support, Earnhardt Jr. has not won a points race at CMS. His only victory was in The Winston, the predecessor to the Sprint All-Star Race, in 2000.

At that time Earnhardt Jr. drove a No. 8 Chevrolet for his father’s organization, Dale Earnhardt Inc.

“This is definitely a race I would love to win,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I want to win a points race so bad.”

Earnhardt Jr. recounted how some of his first racing memories came at Charlotte. The track is located only few miles from his Kannapolis home.

“Being we were from right up the road, we always came here,” he said. “I remember watching a lot of races from the condos in 1982, 1983.

“It’s frustrating that I haven’t won a race here other than the All-Star Race. I’ve never really felt I had a car here that could win.

“They were always good cars but we always seemed to get outrun.”

In a somewhat acrimonious split from DEI, supposedly created when Earnhardt Jr. could not get a sizable ownership percentage of the team from Teresa Earnhardt, his mother-in-law, the driver tore away from his roots and joined Hendrick Motorsports.

He’s had his ups and downs with Hendrick through the years. He’s not won a championship, something he felt would happen when he joined the team.

And, of course, he has not won at CMS.

But this season Earnhardt Jr. has been in top form. He’s been more competitive, week in and week out, than he’s been in the last several years.

Earnhardt Jr.'s teammate, Jeff Gordon, has five wins at CMS and he will move into a four-way tie for first all-time with a  600 victory.

Earnhardt Jr.’s teammate, Jeff Gordon, has five wins at CMS and he will move into a four-way tie for first all-time with a 600 victory.

He opened the season with a victory in the Daytona 500. That win accomplished at least two things: First, the mixture of Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick returned to excellence on the restrictor-plate tracks.

Second, and this is most important, Earnhardt Jr. all but assured himself a spot in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Any driver who wins at least one race has the inside track to the Chase, which was re-formatted to allow 16 drivers – hopefully all winners – to compete.

Earnhardt Jr. has not faded since Daytona. In fact, he’s been very competitive.

He’s fourth in points with seven top-10 finishes in 11 races.

Among those finishes are seconds at Phoenix and Las Vegas – the two races following Daytona – and Darlington.

He earned a fifth-place finish at Kansas, a week before the All-Star race and the last points race prior to the 600.

Earnhardt Jr. was solid in the All-Star Race, finishing fourth.

But he said that was a better finish than his Chevrolet should have earned. He added that there was work to be done before the 600, the longest race in NASCAR.

“We need to improve before the 600,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “We know that. Some of the guys in the (All-Star) race had trouble at the end and that’s why we gained a couple of spots.

“We have to find speed and grip. We know what we have to do and I am confident we’ll get it done.”

Earnhardt Jr. admitted that the “sprint” that is the All-Star race is all about money. But he contends there is more to it than cash.

“You try to pay attention to what you are doing and what you are feeling in your car so you can use those notes next week in the 600,” he said. “You try to look at what your teammates are doing, learning what they are doing, that you might want to do this week when you are going through it all.  “There is a lot to be learned and hopefully we will get our car going pretty quick.”

Studying his teammates might be a good strategy for Earnhardt Jr. Six-time champion Jimmie Johnson has won at Charlotte six times, which ties him with Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip as the all-time leader.

Jeff Gordon has won five times, Kasey Kahne four.

Johnson, however, has yet to win this year and is seventh in points, 28 behind Earnhardt and 54 behind leader Gordon.

“I think they’re just kind of searching with the new rules and where to get Jimmie comfortable and fast and find the speed,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I’ve seen them have speed and then sometimes they just don’t, for whatever reason.

“And when they get in traffic or something they’ve had a little trouble in traffic. I don’t think it’s a big deal, man.

“They are obviously still kind of searching for what they’re looking for. They’re still searching for some speed.”

By his own admission, that is exactly what Earnhardt Jr.’s Hendrick team is doing.

And it would be good to find it by the Coca-Cola 600. That would give Earnhardt Jr. a better chance to win a points race at CMS for the first time in his career.

“The All-Star race was a great opportunity to really be at the race track and get some laps in race condition to try and give yourself the best opportunity to win the 600-miler,” he said. “I feel like we will do that.

“I think we will be ready.”

      

      

What Does Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Have to Do to Win?

Though the last pit stop for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. went like clock work, taking four tires and fuel, it wasn’t enough to reel Johnson in.

When four tires and fuel went into Dale, Jr’s car on the last pit stop of the race, he looked to be the lead dog to win the AAA 400 at Dover, at least to all of the Jr. Nation.

There is no doubt in my mind that they, myself included, were all holding their collective breath to see if the stop would be clean. It was.

He had one of the best cars he’s been given this year, he started from the pole and he ran upfront all day long. He appeared to have a dominant car.

His only miscue came on lap 119 when he missed the commitment cone sending him back around which cost him valuable track position.

It may not seem that such an incident would cost him the race but in fact, for those casual fans who follow the sport, it put him in a defensive position. He worked his way right back up to the front but to no avail. When things go wrong, he doesn’t handle them very well.

Jimmie Johnson, on the other hand, handles problems throughout a race with surgical precision. He rarely stumbles and if he does, he recovers more often than not to press on.

It’s Johnson’s 8th win at ‘The Monster Mile’ and once he’s in control, he’s almost like watching a perfectly executed football game. His team runs like a clock. A very well made clock.

Once Johnson had the upper hand it was a constant battle for everyone else to keep him in sight. In fact, it was only Dale, Jr. that did by finishing the race one-half second behind. Earnhardt, even with four tires and 26 laps to do it, just couldn’t close the gap.

Johnson’s 8th win at Dover and a boost for his 6th title attempt.

According to Johnson, “Two (tires) worked good for us in practice,” Johnson said. “And believe me, I wanted to see four tires line up in the fourth or fifth row. When they lined up right behind me, I thought I was going to have my hands full. And I really did. Junior drove a whale of a race, and track position really gave me the advantage I needed to hold him off.”

In any race such as this the drivers are all setting up for that last run, most expecting a green/white checker. It didn’t come and a 26 lap green flag run to the finish didn’t help Dale, Jr. at all.

“Yeah, if you really look at the race as a whole, they did cost us a little bit, at least the mistake I made missing pit road completely. We had the lead, gave up the lead. Jimmie had the lead and was able to take advantage of that clean air when it counted.

“If I had not given up that track position, had a smart enough race to keep the lead when it counted right at the end, we might have won the race. It would have been hard to get by us, just like it was (hard) to get by Jimmie.

“I think missing the commitment cone was a big factor in us not finishing one spot ahead of where we are. But the other pit stop wasn’t that big a deal. I came on pit road about as hard as I could. The 14, Mark, was running maybe five, 10 miles an hour slow in the first couple of (pit road timing) segments. I don’t know that cost us a ton of time.”

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is the face of NASCAR. Whether he wins ever again is irrelevant to his fan base, which is loyal to the death. The fact that he’s performing better is always a sign for hope.

In this writers’ opinion, despite being his own man, the relentless decade-long comparisons to his father are ongoing reminders of his father’s death and put a very big hole in his heart-and perhaps his thinking.

Dale, Jr. won’t win the Championship, but it’s good to see him performing at a higher level than in the past. What does he have to do to win? Exactly what he’s doing right now.

Finally, It’s never safe to make predictions three races into the Chase run, but with Johnson so close to Matt Kenseth and ahead of Kyle Busch, it looks like a three man run to the end.

 

 

 

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