I know, a lot of people give Dale Earnhardt Jr. a lot of grief, but statistically, Dale Jr. is having his best year ever. I want to thank my friends at RacingReferenceInfo.com for providing accurate stats for all things Nascar.
Dale Jr. so far has had an average starting position of 9.4 in 2008. That's the best of his career. Previously, his best starting position was 10.9, which was 2004. Dale Jr. won 6 races that year, but this year, after only 19 races, Dale Jr. is enjoying the best starting average of his career.
In 2008, Dale Jr.'s finishing average is 11.5, also the best of his career. His next best came also in 2004, with an average finish of 12.1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is truly on track for the best performance of his career, even if he does not achieve 5 or 6 wins.
18 Cup wins, 83 top 5's, and 133 top 10's adds up to a lot for a guy that only has 310 starts in the Cup series. No driver wins every week, and Dale has had a rather phenomenal career, despite his lack, so far, of a Cup championship. Dale Jr. has won 2 Busch Series championships however. In the former Busch series, now named Nationwide, Dale Jr. has also won 22 times out of 104 starts.
For all of you who say that Dale Jr. can't drive a race car, think again. As this year proves, after his move to Hendrick Motorsports, Dale Jr. just gets better and better. He's also going to be harder and harder to beat.
There's a reason other than the statistics why we in the Earnhardt Nation are proud. Despite being the most popular driver since 2002, Dale Jr. has remained a humble driver, and respects other drivers and his fans. Dale Jr. is a whiner? Not hardly. Dale Jr. gets the nod from Nascar? Grow up and examine the facts. Do you really think that 42 other drivers, each with contracts to different owners and sponsors, are just going to lie down for one other driver? Would Lowes lay down for Home Depot? Would Amp lay down for Red Bull? If you think so, then dream on. There's way too much money involved here for that to even be imaginable.
2008 seems to be the year that Dale Earnhardt Jr. has arrived. He's won a points race, and two non-points races, and all I can say is what I remember the great Benny Parsons saying during a race or two. "Boys, he's coming! He's coming!"
Dale Jr. is on his way.