Breaking Down the Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brian Vickers Accident

Kelly CrandallSenior Writer IFebruary 16, 2009

Please, please read the entire article before commenting. And if you do choose to comment make sure you have seen all replays from all incidents mentioned before commenting and looking stupid. All I ask is for an intelligent conversation with everyone knowing all the facts! Thanks.

By now everyone has formed an opinion. Some have made judgments based on who the drivers were. ESPN and Speed Channel beat a dead horse well into last night and certain people showed why they shouldn’t have a press badge and why they are an embarrassment to the media.

This is America and everyone is entitled to form their own opinions and make them known, but some people aren’t doing their homework and are too quick to hit the enter button to get their voice heard.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brian Vickers were both racing for the Lucky Dog, which throws out Kyle Busch’s thinking that they were fighting for nothing, when the two made contact heading into turn three during the Daytona 500 and immediately the replays began.

To understand what really happened, you can’t listen to what the drivers had to say since they are going to have two different versions and each feel like they were the victim, you can’t believe what the broadcasters think they know.  That is why you are only going to find one quote from a driver in this entire article.

Instead, to know what really happened you simply have to watch and listen to all the replays and do your research.

The facts are certain; Brian Vickers threw the block while Earnhardt Jr. had a spectacular run going down the backstretch. The two ended up below the yellow line which is a NASCAR no-no. In an attempt to keep the No. 88 car behind him, the 83 of Brian Vickers got loose and hit the 88 while the two slid below the yellow line.

The reason that the No. 83 got loose was because he was the one that made contact with the No. 88 while forcing him below the yellow line. Vickers even admitted it.

No harm, no foul, that’s restrictor plate racing.

At this point in time two things occurred: the 88 car lifted off the throttle for a brief second and attempted to get in line behind the 83 without losing too much time or being penalized by NASCAR. However, Earnhardt Jr. clearly misjudged the amount of room he had and hit the back bumper of the 83 car which sent him spinning.

This is where the misconceptions begin.

For those who say that Earnhardt Jr. intentional hit the 83 do not know the driver of the No. 88 car, nor do you want to. You see his last name and immediately formed a judgment. Or you believe that because of the day that he was already having, Earnhardt Jr. got too frustrated and hit the 83 car.

You’re both wrong.

Ask yourself this question and honestly answer: When have you ever seen Earnhardt Jr. intentionally hit someone?

When things normally go wrong for Earnhardt Jr. he normally screams and yells about it. How many times have we discussed that here? He normally doesn't affect someone else's race, only his own.

We all know that Dale Earnhardt Sr. was killed at Daytona in 2001 and Dale Earnhardt Jr., as well as every other driver on that track know the dangers of getting into one of these race cars. Now, head back to Texas in November when David Gilliland intentional swerved left to hit the 42 car of Juan Pablo Montoya.

The car behind them that had a front row seat for that was Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Afterward he came over his radio and was disgusted with Gilliland for endangering Montoya and said that there is no place in NASCAR for actions like that. Instead, you wait until after the race is over to have any discussions or fights between the two parties involved.

It’s hard to believe that a man, who lost his father in a race car and feels that passionately about it, would do something like this on purpose.

Rewind a little bit further to Talladega in 2006 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson were ahead of Brian Vickers on the last lap.

When Jimmie Johnson jumped out to pass the then No. 8 car of Earnhardt Jr. Vickers clearly misjudged how much room he had before clipping the rear bumper of Johnson’s car. The result was both Earnhardt Jr. and Johnson spinning through the grass and Vickers collected the win.

It happened in front of the field and when Vickers climbed out in victory lane he said that he did not intentional do that and it was just a racing deal.

This makes his post race comments from the Daytona 500 clearly idiotic. Or maybe it’s become obvious that when Vickers does it, it’s perfectly fine, but not when he is on the receiving end.

"My goal is to keep Junior behind me," Vickers said. "I went to block him. I beat him to the yellow line and then he just turned us. To wreck somebody intentionally like that in front of the entire field is really kind of dangerous. That's my problem with it."

Excuse me sir, but what’s the difference between the two wrecks?

The second misconception, which comes from a lack of watching the replays, is that Earnhardt Jr. hit Vickers in the left rear quarter panel. Well he did, but that was the first contact, not the one that caused the wreck. When the 83 went spinning, it was after Earnhardt Jr. hit the back bumper of Vickers while Earnhardt Jr. was still moving to the right in an attempt to get above the yellow line.

No matter who it is, if you try to bump draft another car and you don’t hit them square on the bumper and the second car is moving to either the left or the right, the front car is going to get out of shape. The same way Brian Vickers did.

Go back and watch the replay.

These are not excuses for Dale Earnhardt Jr., he can make them on his own if he wanted to. These are merely observations that the Fox broadcast team overlooked while quickly placing blame. And for the record, the only time you hear about excuses when it comes to Dale Earnhardt Jr. is when they come from the media. Not once yesterday did I hear him make an excuses for what he did, he stated the facts, he came down and blocked me and I hit him.

That’s another problem, why does there have to be blame? Can’t this simply be what everyone so easily likes to say: a product of restrictor plate racing?

Everyone wants to place blame because it’s the driver of the No. 88 car and his last name is Earnhardt.

For so long everyone wanted the son to be like the father, have the fire and passion that dear old dad did and go out and get to racing hard. That is exactly what he did yesterday and is now being crucified for it.

You folks can’t have it both ways.

Just as NASCAR can’t have it both ways when it comes to blocking, Brian Vickers blocked Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Earnhardt Jr. knew that he had to get back above the yellow line in fear of being penalized and he did so too quickly and chaos ensued.

At Talladega last October, Regan Smith passed Tony Stewart below the yellow line and was penalized for it. When Smith asked NASCAR what he was supposed to do since the No. 20 blocked him, they told him to stand his ground and if the No. 20 spun to the infield after going across his nose, then at least he wouldn’t have been penalized with a yellow line infraction.

I have a sense of déjà vu.

Which is what some fans wanted in terms of having a penalty assessed for rough driving, well, nice wish but you’ll have to wait until next Christmas. The reason that NASCAR did not penalize the No. 88, although some of you say it’s because of his last name and we’ll get to that in a minute, is because unlike Jason Leffler, Earnhardt Jr. never intentional turned to the right.

While playing the in-car camera of the No. 88 you can clearly hear him lift off the throttle before attempting to get back in line. The problem was Vickers still had not straightened his car out from the initial contact and Earnhardt Jr. hit him.

Now, many say that Earnhardt Jr. should have backed off and got behind Vickers. If he did that, then he would have A) been blown past by everyone else and lost his momentum or B) caused a big wreck behind him by stacking everyone else up for his slowing down.

In that split second that Earnhardt Jr. had to chose, he tried to keep going forward.

Also, if Earnhardt Jr. was so mad at Vickers, wouldn’t he have immediately turned right and hit him in the left rear quarter panel and not in the back bumper? While playing it in real time that’s what he appears but that’s why there is instant replay and slow motion.

Neither of those two things occurred and NASCAR deemed that no further action needed to be taken against the No. 88 car. It was simply a racing deal of two cars trying to be in the same place at the same time.

Now, for all you Earnhardt Jr. Haters, whom either hate him for whatever reason or because he is Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s son, I know that you are going to comment until you’re blue in the face about he gets special treatment from NASCAR, you are apparently watching a different race then others.

If Dale Earnhardt Jr. was NASCAR’s favorite son, you again need to ask yourself a few questions.

Wouldn’t they have looked the other way in 2004 when he intentional spun his car at Bristol in the March race because he needed a caution?

And wouldn’t they also have made up an excuse for him when he cursed in victory lane at Talladega in October of that same year instead of taking away 25 championship points and 10 grand?

Or wouldn’t they have used their blind inspectors at Darlington in May of 2007 when they caught him with illegal bolts on the back of his car? They wouldn’t have suspended his crew chief for six weeks and taken away $100,000 and 100 championship points.

There are plenty of times that Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets penalized, just as much as the next guy. Go back and do your research.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t see the favoritism. If so, I believe that he would win a lot more races and they would hand him championships. And those are obviously not happening.

"Today's incident was nothing like yesterday's incident, which was deemed intentional," NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said. "Today, the two cars were racing hard and got into each other. It was an unintentional racing incident that did not warrant further action."

And lastly for all you commenter’s who are going to say that I am a Earnhardt Jr. fan and therefore would never admit when he does something wrong, you are sorely mistaken. If you would like the number to call any of my friends and family to hear what I have to say about Earnhardt Jr. when he does something stupid, please email me.

Yes, I am an Earnhardt Jr. Fan, but I’m also an objective race fan.

When Brian Vickers took both Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson out at Talladega in 2006, my reaction was that he ran out of talent to understand that he wasn’t clear of Johnson when attempting to get behind him. I never once said it was on purpose.

When Earnhardt Jr. jumped the start at Bristol last August, I cursed until I was red in the face at how stupid and what a Rookie move that was. And when he over shot his pit stall on Thursday in the Gatorade Duel races, I was once again had nothing nice to say.

Yes, I am very loyal to Dale Earnhardt Jr. and have stuck with him through the thick and thin. But I’m also smart enough to know that everyone is human, everyone makes mistakes and everyone is entitled to have a bad day.

That’s what happened on lap 124 during the Daytona 500, Earnhardt Jr. made a mistake that took out a lot of great race cars.

The treatment that has been going on by the fans and the media since yesterday is the reason that I caved and wrote this article. I was ready to say screw it and get ready for California. But just like the media and just like the fans, I can’t because of his last name.

Just ask yourself: Would this be all a big deal if another driver had hit Vickers?