June 19, 2012
I don’t normally talk too much about NASCAR, but even I have to say something about Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning a race for the first time in four years. He won the Quicken Loans 400 at the same track his last win came in, Michigan International Speedway. I must say that it’s good to see Earnhardt Jr. finally on the winner’s circle. He is by far NASCAR’s most popular driver and it’s good for business when your sport’s most popular figure can become competitive during the course of the season. There was a time when I thought Earnhardt Jr. would never win a race again. It seemed like every time he would come close to winning a race between 2008 and now, something bad would happen to prevent that elusive victory. Maybe he would get into a crash, or he would run out of gas on the last lap while he was in the lead. It had only been in the last year and a half that Jr. was in contention to win some of these races. In the early part of this drought, it was becoming very apparent that Jr. was just an overrated driver. I was very critical of Jr. because it seemed like he was blaming everyone else but himself for why he couldn’t get into the winner’s circle. He fired his crew chief when he was still with Dale Earnhardt Inc. racing, then he made the move to Hendrick Motorsports to join a team flanked by Jimmie Johnson (5-time NASCAR Sprint Cup series winner) and Jeff Gordon (4-time Sprint Cup winner). At the beginning of his time with Hendrick Motorsports, it didn’t look like things were going to get any better for Jr. He continued to have bad finish after bad finish. Then things slowly started to turn around and he started to become more and more competitive. Then came Sunday, when he was finally able to breakthrough and win. For me it’s about time he finally won. It was incredible that it took this long to see him win a race. Now the next step is to compound more victories so we’re not throwing a national party when he does win. You would have thought Earnhardt Jr. won the whole Sprint Cup title with the way everyone wants to interview him. With all that said, it’s good to see finally see Earnhardt Jr. win a race. Congrats to Dale Earnhardt Jr. for finally breaking through and getting that elusive win. It could be a great sign of things to come, and that would be a great thing for NASCAR and their fans.