Something's Gotta Give After Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Dismal Drive at Dover

Sandra MacWattersCorrespondent IMay 16, 2010

DOVER, DE - MAY 14:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 14, 2010 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Geoff Burke/Getty Images

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was one disgusted driver after Saturday's practice run at Dover International Speedway in Delaware. Things deteriorated for him from that point on, as the Autism Speaks 400 unfolded on Sunday.

Much to his dismay, he faced the media prior to the race, being that he was in the top 12 of the point standings.

To say his comments were a bit terse may be underestimating his interest in the questions posed to him.

It took Earnhardt less than three minutes to cover his overall unhappiness with most things related to the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover.

He did not know or seem to care who his spotter would be. His regular spotter, T.J.Majors, was at home awaiting the birth of his first child.

His car was still in qualifying trim and wasn't good. He expressed hope it would get better.

He wished Dover Speedway was asphalt. Concrete tracks don't seem especially friendly to him.

When he was asked if being with Lance McGrew for a year was significant, he answered with a simple "no."

Earnhardt spoke about the problems with his car by describing it as just not fast, sometimes too tight, sometimes too loose.

His obvious disgust with trying to drive the car hard, but getting nowhere was evident.

Earnhardt has one win, four top-five finishes, and seven top-10 finishes with an average of 17.2 at Dover.

The Amp Energy/National Guard Chevy qualified in 27th place. His worst qualifying position this year.

His single win was back in 2001, and a glorious win it was after what the country had been through.

So many tend to blame the driver of the No. 88, myself included at times. Earnhardt said, "I just get pissed when my stuff isn't good, you know?"

Perhaps it does wear on him when so often the car arrives at the track in qualifying trim, and doesn't handle or isn't fast.

During races he sometimes has a fast car, and McGrew seems to work on it until he can barely drive it.

Earnhardt has to find frustration with the fact Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and even Mark Martin, arrive at the tracks with cars capable of winning or top finishes week after week.

There is supposed to be parity with the cars from Hendrick Motorsports. It always seems a piece of the puzzle is missing with Earnhardt's team.

You have to wonder if it really is fair to blame the driver as often as we do.

From the time the race began the No. 88 was never competitive.

On lap 171 he said on the radio "something broke."  The problems proved devastating, as attempts to get him back out cost the team seven laps.

With a 30th place finish, 10 laps down, and a drop to 16th in the points standings, it appears momentum has taken a turn south.

It almost seems there is some sort of Mexican standoff between Earnhardt and McGrew.

The driver expects a competitive car when he gets to a track. If the car has problems, he tends to give up on trying to drive it hard when he is running toward the back half of the pack.

The crew chief does his best to make the car better, but it usually isn't enough. It does make one wonder why he can't get a car to the track in qualifying trim that is able to qualify well, and is fast off the truck.

A lot of squabbling can be heard over the radio between Junior and McGrew. The conversation sounds a bit like a couple in a bad marriage. Perhaps it really is a bad marriage.

As we get half way to the Chase at Charlotte, Junior Nation still waits for the No. 88 team to click and all will be well as things take a turn for the better.

Unfortunately, if Earnhardt doesn't stop his descent in points quickly, he will miss the Chase.

The other three Hendrick teams appear poised to make the Chase.

You really have to wonder just how long Junior will be content to just hang out at Hendrick Motorsports.