2010: Put Up Or Shut Up For Junior

Don JordanContributor IDecember 15, 2009

HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 20:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2009 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
John Harrelson/Getty Images

2010 is the year Dale Jr. determines if he is going to create his own history or fade off into obscurity.  I am not talking about fan support, just as I always pulled for his daddy and will hopelessly cheer Junior until he retires; I speak to the fact that 2010 will likely determine whether Junior has a career that is relevant or not.  Whether Junior makes a name for himself ON THE TRACK or slides into oblivion simply running non-competitive lap after lap like Kyle Petty; 2010 will be a defining year for him.

It has nothing to do with popularity, off the track actions, etc...Strictly making a name for himself by being competitive on the track.

As many great things Kyle has done in his career, it always saddened me he just simply couldn't get it truly together on the track.  He showed glimpses, but never took it and ran with it on his own.

With the success HMS displayed in 2009 besides Junior, I believe there is a whole other level of expectation that Junior is competitive in 2010.  Anything less than making the chase and I believe it is the beginning of the end for his career ultimately.

In my heart of hearts I hope he pulls it off, but in 2010, I believe it is time to put up or shut up for Junior.