Dale Earnhardt Jr has about one million psychologists.
Every day there is a new article with a different title. But its basically the same thing.
What is wrong with Jr?
The list of theories as to why Earnhardt Jr is faltering is never ending. They range from halfway logical to completely ridiculous.
Earnhardt Jr has struggled since finishing last in the Chase last year. He started poorly this year at the Daytona 500, finishing 27th after some pit road mistakes and being involved in the "big one".
Since the poor start at Daytona, Earnhardt's problems have snowballed. His detractors have been loving every minute of his trouble. His every mistake is dissected by a cynical, bloodsucking media.
Everyone in the world has an opinion to what's wrong.
His fans blame Tony Eury Junior. They cry about a conspiracy against him within Hendrick.
They blame the useless piece of trash known as the Car of Tomorrow. Some say he refuses to learn from his teammates on how to set the car up.
Another theory is that Earnhardt is driving scared since his accident at Infineon where his Corvette caught fire. You know, maybe almost dying in a fiery crash has taken away his ability to get up on the wheel and be aggressive. The reality of what happened to his old man may have sunk in.
Many people say he has too much on his plate. After all, he is NASCAR's most popular driver. He has his own race team. He does his commercials and appearances. Not to mention everybody and their mother wants an interview. And, he likes to party.
Another theory I came across is that after Dale Earnhardt Incorporated pretty much ceased to exist, he's been depressed and has loss interest in racing. This theory actually makes sense. When you look back at his record last year, his performance really dropped off right about the same time he found out that his Dad's world class shop would become a museum.
Then we know that the Earnhardt Jr. bashers say that he just plain can't drive and has been overrated all along. You know the type. The troll people that follow Dale Earnhardt Jr fans around and leave the same comments on every message board and forum.
There is the pressure of being the face of NASCAR that could be a problem, too. Just having the Earnhardt name gives him an impossible yardstick to measure up to. Even Mark Martin said that Earnhardt Jr has the broadest shoulders in NASCAR, and that he would never trade places with him.
Does anyone think that his little slump would be a big deal if it was Kevin Harvick or Greg Biffle? Of course not. Every driver goes through a tough period in their career. Let's not forget Earnhardt was right in the mix for a championship last year until his poor finish at the 2008 fall race at Dover.
So what's the answer? I think its important to realize that way too much light is on Earnhardt's every move. The media was more then willing to put him up on a pedestal when things where good for Earnhardt Jr. He was filling the void that his champion father put in our hearts when he left too soon.
So really the fans and the media used him as a hero to help us deal with the loss of his father. And now that we realize that our hero is fallible, we're beginning to deal with the loss of someone we loved.
So I guess the answer isn't that Earnhardt Jr needs a psychologist. But maybe the fans and the media need one. Like the movie "We are Marshall" says, grief is messy and it makes you do things you regret.
It's time to deal with our grief Earnhardt fans, and stop putting it on Dale Earnhardt Jr.
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