Countdown to Daytona: Owner Point Style No. 12 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.)
Day 24 is here (again)! As we break into last year’s Chase field, we start off with the sports most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Junior has a lot to prove in his second season with the big dog, Hendrick Motorsports.
Lets face it, last year, expectations were high, but every still said, “Junior is with a new team…”
This year, he enters his second season with Hendrick, and should now be ready to compete at the same level as three-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson. (They do have the same exact equipment by the way!)
Junior Nation is bound to be getting tired of sub-par finishes. They flock to the tracks, buy up thousands of dollars in merchandise and it’s all for what? A few top-fives and top-10 finishes, and a last place showing in the Chase.
NASCAR also needs Junior to succeed in order to keep fans showing up at the races and keeping their televisions turned on.
Junior won more than $5.4 million with a 12th place showing in the points last season. He managed one win, 10 top-fives and 16 top-10 finishes. His average finish was 14th.
There was little news out of the entire HMS stable this off season, but one company did try and use Junior to put fans in the seats of their Nationwide race.
Memphis barbecue (sponsor of the Nationwide race at Memphis Speedway), offered Junior a life-time supply of their ribs to simply show up and race that weekend.
The offer came after an episode of MTV’s Cribs featured Junior, who mentioned he liked Memphis ribs.
However, Junior responded that he was actually talking about another brand, and simply referred to them as being in Memphis. He was enticed by the offer of barbecue, but did tell Rendezvous that he may be willing to work something out for a life-time supply of their ribs.
The only other big news surrounding Junior this off season was the idea from Kellogs to place the HMS drivers on Pop-Tarts. (I guess things are good when your top two stories involve nothing but food… right?)
My Prediction for 2009
Sorry Junior Nation (myself included), but it will be another year of the same old thing for Junior. Sure, he’ll lead a couple laps at a lot of races, but he will continually fall off near the mid-way point of the race and finish just inside, or outside the top-10.
Junior will make the Chase, and finish in the neighborhood of 7th to 11th.
Will this team remain in top-35: No doubt about it… They’ll be fine here.
Up Tomorrow: No. 17 Matt Kenseth
This story also appears on my blog: Sports 101
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