Dale Earnhardt Jr.: One Year Later

Jim CrooksCorrespondent IAugust 1, 2008

He's relaxed. He smiles. He wins. He's Dale Earnhardt Jr. again! Fans rejoice, and all is right in the Earnhardt world, isn't it?

It's hard to tell. Dale Jr. wants a championship and that's going to be hard to accomplish with the winning streak that Kyle Busch is currently on, but the facts speak for themselves. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in second place in points.

Kyle Busch has won seven races, that's true, but Kyle tends to do stupid things too. I don't know if it's his young age or the fact that he just drives like an idiot.

Dale Jr. has not blown an engine during a race this season. He's not finished badly except when his teammate or the 18 car took him out. The part about the 18 car could be said about a lot of guys though, in three different series.

One year after Dale Jr. drove for DEI, he's won two non points races and one points race. His Nationwide driver, Brad Keselowski has also won a race. Things are good at JRM and for Dale Jr. right now.

Overrated you say? Has your driver won 18 Cup races and 2 Busch series championships? If not, shut up until your driver can claim the same trophies. I don't care who you are in NASCAR, but Dale Jr. has an enviable record.

One of the great charms about Dale Jr. is that he's down to earth. He is what you see and he'll tell you the truth. He's just like he was back when he made less than $400 a week changing oil at Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet in Newton, NC.

From all accounts, Dale Jr. learned his job well and did it to the best of his ability. When he graduated to racing, his first job at DEI paid exactly $400 a week. That allowed the young guy to live in a double-wide trailer, right across from the company his father built, DEI. He eventually built a house there, but he did literally live across the road from the shop.

When his dad died in 2001, Dale Jr. was a lost soul for a while, but not for too long. He managed to win a lot of races without his dad. He managed to get JR Motorsports off the ground without his dad's help. He managed to hook up with a winning team—Hendrick Motorsports—and he has won there.

To those haters out there, listen to me. Dale Jr. did exactly what his father would have done—race. He didn't wait for the racing to catch up with him. A careful scholar of Dale's career will tell you the same. Dale and Dale Jr. always went where the racing was.

Dale Jr. is a true racer. He's won a lot in both what's now called Nationwide and in the Cup series. He's a two time champ in what's now called the Nationwide Series. He's won 18 times in the Cup Series. He's the real deal. Overrated? Get over it. Get a life.

Dale Jr. is the real deal.