Crew problems may not be the root of Earnhardt's troubles
Whenever any column on
As the e-mails piled in on the Earnhardt-
Doubtful Junior's going to hold up a glass to that one, Chris. Clearly, looking at his results the past three-plus seasons, they don't hold a candle to
But before you write Junior off as a guy with a famous last name, let's not forget the run he had during a career that may have peaked in 2003-04. During that two-year period, Earnhardt won eight times, piled up 42 top-10 finishes and ended the years third and fifth, respectively, in Cup points -- a type of sustained success current superstars
So where has it all gone wrong for NASCAR's Most Popular Driver? Sometimes newer isn't always better...
T.J.'s got it nailed. That one victory in 100 Car of Tomorrow starts is what really sticks out to me. For whatever reason, Earnhardt just hasn't figured out how to adapt and to grasp the difference between what makes a good driver and what makes a great driver. The scout Ray mentioned above is right about that aspect: Someone like Jimmie Johnson helps his team improve his car's handling late in races, while Earnhardt has his crew chief scrambling not to make it worse.
Just 35, the Intimidator's son still has time to salvage his reputation at Hendrick. The
What's unfortunate, though, is how sometimes the chemistry isn't there no matter how hard you try to nurture it. Just look at
McMurray was asked at Homestead in November about the lessons he learned by failing with one of the sport's top teams.
"With Hendrick and Roush's [success], you start to believe they have better cars or people or equipment," he said, comparing EGR to a program twice its size. "And for me, going to Roush was somewhat of an eye opener in that there wasn't a magic button, or a magic set of shocks, or any magic [at all]. The grass is not always greener on the other side.
"You just always think that it is going to be better if you do something different, and it isn't always," he added. "Going back to Ganassi's shop and seeing the guys that you knew years ago, a lot of them still work there. To have them come up and shake your hand and tell you how glad they are you are back, there is a lot to be said for having not just the eight or 10 guys on your specific team behind you, but to have the whole organization behind you."
You wonder if in two years we're going to see Earnhardt either with
And how many resources can the Hendrick organization funnel for a program that's so far behind everyone else?
It'll be interesting to see what transpires over the next few months. But we can all agree on one thing: Two-and-a-half years in and the stats alone leave the Earnhardt-Hendrick pairing one of the biggest busts in NASCAR history.
Jon, you're correct. To earn an automatic berth into the 2011 All-Star Race, you must meet one of three criteria:
-- Win a race in either 2010 or '11 (as of now, he has not)
-- Earn a Sprint Cup championship in the previous 10 years (no)
-- Win the All-Star Race in the previous 10 years (that 2000 victory no longer qualifies)
Those rules leave Earnhardt needing to transfer in via the Sprint Showdown or through the Fan Vote. It's still a long way off (there're 36 more chances to win and earn a spot), but certainly it shows you how far he's fallen from "superstar" status if he's even forced to race in to NASCAR's superstar gala.
Moving on... let's tie up a loose end from last week.
I got a lot of e-mails about the date proximity between Richmond and Dover being a reason for poor attendance in Delaware, with people claiming they had to choose one over the other. It's true that if fans had one race to spend on per year, they'd go to the three-quarter mile Virginia short track that's arguably fans' and drivers' favorite. But if you had two races to spend your money on would going to Dover two weeks later versus one month really make that much of a difference? I'm sorry, I just don't buy that excuse for 40,000 fans not showing up.
I will agree the schedule needs to be revamped for 2011. But the weather at Dover was marvelous all weekend. If anything, the date change could have helped for day-of fans who experienced picture-perfect conditions for a race.
Finally, we have our usual "out of left field e-mail" for the week...
I assume this is in protest to Dale Earnhardt getting the nod over Pearson for the fifth and final spot in NASCAR's inaugural Hall of Fame class. By the way, how classy was that induction ceremony? I feel like a lot of fans missed it, and that's a shame because the speeches, for the most part, were fantastic. If I had to pick watching a Fontana race or this year's Hall of Fame induction, I think I'd choose the latter.
You're a good man, supporting your driver, Terry, and I can tell you this much: he'll be first on the list for the Class of 2011. And judging by a practice stint at Darlington with
Enjoy the greatest weekend in motorsports, guys.
"He's a guy that wants to win just as bad if not more than me. I was [the] leader and used all the track in front of me. And if roles were reversed, Kyle would check up and pull down?? Lol.. OK, back to reality. Love u all.. Peace" --