Friday, June 12, 2009

What is Dale Jr. to do?

I guess the short answer is: Focus. Ok, you can quit reading now.

I've just violated all the rules of journalism by giving away my key word in the first sentence. But I don't blame anyone if they don't read the rest of this.

Let's say you're an up and coming race car driver. Let's just say. You can beat most of the guys on the local quarter mile tracks almost every week of the season. Maybe you're a high school student looking at final exams next week. Maybe you're a 40 year old father of 3, and have a job, a wife who supports you, but also just wants to get away from not just you, but of course, the 3 kids.

Let's just say.

If you were 40, you'd probably give a large part of of your family treasures to be one of the guys in Nascar. In any division, the Camping World Trucks, the Nationwide Series, and especially the Sprint Cup Series.

If you're 17, you're probably thinking the same thing.

Nascar is often the same for people of all ages. Whether you're 17 or 90, you, as a fan, have often dreamed about strapping on a race car and doing great things under the cameras and eyes that follow the sport. More important than the publicity is the winning.

Imagine crawling out of a race car in Victory Lane at the Daytona International Speedway in February, being showered with beer, champagne, Gatorade, Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, or who knows what.

In Dale Jr.'s case, he experienced all that in 2004. Can you imagine the feeling he had when he climbed out of that number 8 Chevrolet?

Personally, I can't. I can't imagine that feeling. Ever.

But I'm a mere mortal, not a superstar like virtually all of the Nascar drivers we see each week. I write about the sport I'd love to live, but never will.

Among superstars in Nascar, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the biggest star. He never asked to be what he is, but he is, like it or not.

Now it's time to pony up, for Dale Jr. He just got a new crew chief, which means to most of the world that he should perform better. Some seem to assume that simply changing the crew chief will solve all of Dale Jr.'s problems. It won't.

Winning is a total commitment to every level of putting a car on the track and making it go fast. Some of that is totally out of the driver's hands, but a lot of it is in his hands. Only the driver can get the most out of a race car. The crew chief can try to get it as good as he can, but in the end, it's the driver against the other guys on the track, and often enough, the track itself.

Sometimes it's the driver against himself.

Sometimes it's time to just go with the flow, to let go, to just have fun. Personally, there have been times in my life when I just quit caring about the standards with which I was collared, and just felt like what I needed to do was what I personally felt like I needed to do.

In most cases, I found extra strength to do what needed to be done, and ended up the victor in the struggle in which I was embroiled.

My advice to Dale Jr.: Have some fun, get loose, and just do what you feel is right.

In the long run, that might lead to focus. Figure out where you want to go, and visualize it. Then go for it.

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