Sunday, June 15, 2008

Junior Wins at Michigan



The long drought is over. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is known worldwide as simply Junior, broke a non winning streak of 76 races. He has endured sniping about his abilities as a driver - such as he is only where he is because of his last name. Forget how Daddy didn't just give him a job - he had to work his way up. Or that he lacks the will to win. Or his stepmother was right - he needed to work at driving more than partying.

This win won't silence those sort of critics, particularly since this was a "fuel mileage" victory. The Rocket 88 had to be pushed to Victory Lane, and Jr. didn't do a burnout (he's on record as thinking they are overdone and too hard on equipment). Critics say when you win by a superior fuel strategy, you back into a victory. As opposed to winning by a superior handling car or more power.

Oh well, such is the world of Nascar. Junior had a rather poignant interaction with his boss and sometime mentor Rick Hendrick. Rick, who has lost a son of Junior's vintage, and of course Junior has lost his famous father. Winning on this, of all days, meant something personal to both of them. It was touching to see Junior wish everyone a good Father's Day during his post race interview as well. It was clear that he meant it.

Mostly, he seemed like the weight of the world was off his shoulders. He's had victory in his sights many times this season only to see it go up in smoke for one reason or another - say, like getting punted by the media's latest darling, The Shrub. Ron Hornaday and Kevin Harvick had a thing or two to say about Kyle's latest escapade in the Truck Series.

But, this is all typical Nascar goodness. It's not just the action on the track, it's also the soap opera qualities a fan can enjoy. Which I obviously do.

Photo courtesy Restrictor-Plate This

1 comment:

RT said...

Well, he had to get to the front somehow during the race. It wasn't on fumes.

After last week's race he seemed so dejected and bordering on tears. I felt so bad for him, because you know he just wanted to win and make Hendrick happy with his new-hire.

I think there is much more (depth) to Jr. than he lets on and his critics won't admit it. I think people need to stop comparing him to his dad, too. Well, unless he grows a 'stache.

I hope he's successful now that he's got that monkey off of his back.