Academics working at Loughborough University in England believe they have discovered a gene that may explain the failings of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., and F1 pilot Nelson Piquet Jr.
The university, which is renowned as a centre for sports excellence, was trying to find a reason why the children of many sporting greats never achieve the heights of their parents.
"One afternoon in the pub we got to talking about how we were bored of trying to cure cancer or finding the perfect chili recipe," said Dr. Andrew Moda, one of the leaders of the project. "And somebody mentioned how rubbish Nelson Piquet Jr. was, compared to his dad."
"We wondered whether the talent that won three world titles could simply skip a generation. Then one of the visiting lecturers we had from America introduced us to Dale Earnhardt Jr., and it was the same story: The son of a driver who won numerous titles, seemingly with none of the ability of his father."
"After three more pints, we started doing research the only way modern academics know how: Wikipedia.
"Although the words were all moving about and the pink elephants outside carried on throwing hedgehogs at the window, we were able to make out one similarity: Jr."
"After some more Internet research we found multiple theories," continued Ed Smith, a PhD student on the project.
"Obviously they were all about Earnhardt as no one really cares about Piquet. We found people blaming the cars he runs, the team he drives with, his cousin, another Jr. we took note of, and a fire he suffered when racing a proper car. Rather than believe any of these we decided to get funded and got DNA samples of both Piquet and Earnhardt."
"After a few weeks-long procedures, we found there was one part of their DNA in common. We believed it had to be the link."
"We gained the DNA from other children of racing champions, only this time the children had been equally, if not more successful, than their fathers. Neither Damon Hill nor Jacques Villeneuve showed the DNA element. We were quite surprised with the Villenueve result."
"In one final check we took the DNA of a son who had been a failure, but was not a Jr. Naturally we picked Nationwide driver Steven Wallace. Again the DNA element was absent, leading us to associate it just with failing Juniors."
"We then set about widening the scope of research, to those Juniors whose parents were either unsuccessful themselves, or not involved in racing at all. In doing so, we discovered that both Martin Truex Jr. and Sam Hornish Jr. have the "Junior Failure" gene present, and are either carriers of the gene or have mild cases."
"We also believe that this DNA marker may be more widespread, and may extend beyond those with 'Jr.' in their name."
"We currently have a legal team trying to secure a sample from Casey Mears and Danica Patrick to confirm our suspicion."
"We are unaware if the 'Jr. Failure' gene effects sports aside from racing, and to be honest, we don't care."
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