Note: This was originally posted March 19, 2007.
Sorry for not writing anything in so long, but I really couldn't think of anything to say that hadn't already been said. Las Vegas and Atlanta are done, and now we look forward to Bristol and the debut of the Car Of Tomorrow! (cue the echo, please!)
Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson for squeezing Tony Stewart into the wall and spoiling his victory. Congratulations to Nascar for throwing the yellow flag when it was most advantageous to Jimmie and his half owner, Jeff, and allowing Hendrick to shine once again.
Now that all of that is out of the way, let me say Congratulations to Dale Earnhardt, Jr, Martin Truex Jr., and Paul Menard. All the DEI guys finished this week after 500 miles of hard, fast racing. Atlanta is still considered the fastest track on the circuit, and all of these cars reach speeds of 200 mph plus at the end of the straights. Folks, that's wide open, foot in the firewall racing! There were no DEI engine failures this weekend.
There were, however, engine failures for both Evernham Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing. Kevin Harvick, who drives the 29 Chevrolet for RCR, went down a cylinder with about 50 or more laps to go. Kevin finished the race, but obviously was not very competitive with the other cars running on all 8. Scott Riggs, who drives the 10 Dodge for Ray Evernham, blowed up real good, as we say here in the south.
After 4 races, ex-Daytona champ Michael Waltrip is still mired at an unbelievable -27 points. Toyota, obviously, is rejoicing.
Back to Dale Earnhardt Jr. He ran in the top 10 nearly all day, after starting 22nd. His team adjusted on the car all day, and except for an unfortunate adjustment on the last pit stop, coupled with a very slow pit stop, could have been easily in the top 5. Dale Jr. had the ability to pass cars all day, even though the car was far from perfect. Dale Jr. eventually finished 14th.
Has Dale Jr.'s season gone all to heck? I don't think so. Last week Dale Jr. got a disappointing 11th after what could have easily been a top 10 run when he went into the pit prematurely. He didn't realize pit road was closed, and it's that simple. It was a mistake that cost him probably 5 positions. This week, reportedly, a pit member caused him a slow pit stop by slipping while servicing the car. Dale Jr.'s comment afterward was that he was "frustrated".
Frustration not withstanding, Dale Jr. did not hesitate to praise his pit crew. I think that was only fitting since he, the driver, basically cost them positions at Las Vegas. It's true that spotter Steve Hmeil, and even Tony Eury Jr., the crew chief should have told him in advance that pit road was closed, but nobody said anything, relying on the driver, who apparently didn't have enough to do, was capable of figuring that out for himself.
All I'm saying is that this season is only 4 races old, and so far Jr. has finished the last 2. Not a great percentage, of course, but the important thing is that Jr. has finished the LAST TWO! Two weeks without blown engines or wrecks. Two weeks without having to go home early. Two weeks of advancing himself in points. In other words, the team, and Dale Jr. have done their jobs.
True Dale Jr. fans need to support Dale Jr. and not pick apart every mistake, every miscall, or even every dirty look. The 8 team is committed to winning not only races, but winning the Nextel Cup.
Dale Earnhardt Inc. is getting better.
The last 2 race results show it.
If you like Dale Jr., get behind him. Don't stand in his way.