Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Answers To Another Poor Season Are Not in the Chase

Sal Sigala Jr.Senior Analyst IAugust 2, 2010

LONG POND, PA - JULY 30:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, stands in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway on July 30, 2010 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
John Harrelson/Getty Images

Time is of the essence with only five races remaining before the Chase begins, and already the fans around the social sites are looking into the future of Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

With plenty of time still left on his contract, the consensus is that maybe a changing of the guard is what’s needed to put NASCAR’s most popular driver back into victory lane.

The fans, along with anyone else who has taken an interest trying to dissect what is happening with Earnhardt, have come up with some pretty good explanations as to why he is having so much trouble trying to get win No. 19.

It’s not so bad when a driver consistently has bad finishes and has never shown any promise while racing in NASCAR’s premier series.

However, if that same driver, at one time, was considered a top contender, while proving along the way he has the tools to someday become a champion, then it becomes more noticeable when he strings along three or four seasons of less than mediocre stats. His fans try to play it off as another bad year while telling those who will listen that he is a race or two away from breaking out of a phantom slump.

There will always be those who will either show some compassion for what he is going through, and just like a double edged sword where the sharpest edge is the one that does the most damage, which come in the form of the harsh comments from the nay-sayers.

Something is definitely wrong when he begins faltering during his prime, and it doesn’t take much to sit back and begin to wonder where did things go wrong.

The answers are not blowing by him and his crew chief Lance McGrew like the wind, where with one breath they can be taken in, but instead they are much deeper and, so far, each week they become more and more visible as the season slowly comes to a close.

The average race fan is looking for some sort of quick fix with a magical pre-manufactured solution which even in this day and age is not part of a normal way of thinking.

Now in keeping with his current situation, the answer will not be found in the, “What if” scenarios, nor will they be found if indeed he does make the chase.

When Earnhardt last made the chase in 2008, he finished 557 points behind eventual Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson, and 57 points behind 11th place finisher Matt Kenseth who went without a win.

What good would it be to make the chase, if you cant be competitive once you finally make it?

There is no added glory in finishing 12th compared to maybe finishing 13th other then the fact that he made the chase.

Looking at Earnhardt’s season from a sensible perspective, the team does not have some magical solution which they can go to in times of need.

Instead, when the sun looks as if it is getting ready to shine down on them, a black cloud quickly covers the rays of hope and once again they are left in the dark.

Whatever direction the team takes from this point on, realistically speaking, the chase should be the farthest thing from their minds, and their No. 1 priority should be to work on more consistent finishes.

Sugar coating is no longer an option, and neither are all the hypothetical scenarios that are written each time Earnhardt finishes outside the top-10.

What Earnhardt really needs will not be found at Richard Childress Racing, nor will it be found at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.

Instead the only place it can be found is when NASCAR’s most popular driver makes the decision to dig deep within himself, just as he did when he first began driving full-time in the series back in 2000.