LifeLock 400: Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Gas Tank Fuels Controversy, But Little Else

Katrina ShankleAnalyst IJune 16, 2008

Get those who shot J.R. thinkers a web forum and let them get started.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. captured another semi-controversial win yesterday.

Or was it?

Hendrick Motorsports is no stranger to playing the fuel mileage game, so why speculate that Dale Earnhardt Jr. got a little *wink wink, nod nod* help from NASCAR? 

Yesterday's emotional, theatrical win took me back to the 2001 Pepsi 400 in Daytona where Dale Jr. blew through the field with six laps to go.  Jr. Nation celebrated the emotional win and almost immediately the critics and conspirators got their pens rolling and their keyboards chattering.

A lot of naysayers speculated that NASCAR had given Junior a bit of assistance to getting to the front and staying there.  I imagine we'll be hearing those same speculations, assumptions, and accusations again this week. 

Some of them will surely be the same ones who believe that Dale Jr. is a talent-less hack of a driver famous off his daddy's name. 

But Kyle Petty is proof that being a famous NASCAR driver's son won't guarantee you big money, sponsors, and top level rides.  It definitely doesn't guarantee a consistent, championship level season.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of the best loved drivers but perhaps also one of the most underrated.  He is talented and humble.

He is seemingly that final embodiment of NASCAR's early days and at the same time he's the cool, modern driver making NASCAR more cosmopolitan and popular.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Eury Jr. made some gambles and had luck on their side.  They finally parlayed one of their top five finishes into a win to end the drought.  Let the naysayers proclaim NASCAR threw the race for him.

The believers were happy to see him in Victory Lane again.

I certainly was.