After watching the Daytona 500 this past Sunday, I am sick of how much press and attention that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is receiving. Earnhardt Jr. is NASCAR’s most overrated driver, and here are four reasons why.
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the son of Dale Earnhardt Sr.
If that couldn’t get any more obvious, let me explain myself. Dale Earnhardt Sr. was one of the most successful drivers of all time, and the “3″ car had an extremely dedicated fanbase. Naturally, his son would feed off of the enormous fanbase and attention, especially after Earnhardt Sr. passed away at Daytona.
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. drives for Hendrick Motorsports, the consensus top team in NASCAR.
Sure, he made a massive career move when he moved to Hendrick Motorsports from his own team. Hendrick’s drivers are very talented—Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Mark Martin have all found incredible success over the course of their careers.
Earnhardt Jr., however, has not finished very well in the final points standings over the course of his career. Since 1999, Earnhardt Jr. has finished in the top-five in points just three times. Five of those years he ended up outside of the top-10 in points.
Just because he drives for Hendrick doesn’t mean that his results will improve. In 2007 and 2008 there has been no significant improvement in his finishes (12th and 16th in points respectively).
3. People don’t understand why Hendrick signed this guy in the first place.
Earnhardt Jr. was signed to replace Kyle Busch, who left for Joe Gibbs Racing. However, there is little doubt in my mind on who the better driver is of the two.
Hendrick signed this guy for money and marketing…nothing else. Earnhardt Jr. has marketability, but so does Michael Waltrip—we all know how he has performed in recent years. If Hendrick honestly wanted to keep the better driver, they would have kept Busch on board.
4. He makes dumb, rookie mistakes, and tends to overreact when the media gets on his back.
If Daytona was any indication, Dale Earnhardt Jr. still makes a lot of dumb moves on the racetrack. He missed his pit box, overreacted when he was penalized, and eventually spun out Brian Vickers, starting “The Big One.” He struggles to keep his emotions in check, and he will continue to struggle with results if he keeps making dumb mistakes.
In conclusion, Earnhardt Jr. is NASCAR’s most overrated driver on the Sprint Cup circuit.