After finishing second in the Daytona 500 with the final run to the checkered, the big question everybody has on their mind is will this be the comeback year for Dale Earnhardt Jr.? After the changes made in the offseason at Hendrick Motorsports, I’d believe so, though I also believe so due to a statistical formula.
If you look at his results from his rookie season in 2000 to last year, you will notice there’s a high and then there’s a low (2003-2004 is the exception). He peaks and finishes well, and then he drops down to a valley. Most valley years have had explanations as to why, though the stats still remain the same.
In 2000, in his rookie year, he finished 16th in points after winning two races (Texas and Richmond) and the Sprint All-Star race. The reason for the low finish in points results to lack of experience.
In 2001, he finished eighth in points after winning three races (Daytona, Dover, Talladega) despite that being the year his father died.
In 2002, he finished 11th in points after winning both races at Talladega. Reason for the low finish in points resulted due to a concussion suffered in a wreck at California that hurt him for at least two months of the season.
In 2003, he finished third in points after winning Talladega and Phoenix.
In 2004, he finished fifth in points after winning the Daytona 500 and five other races (Atlanta, Richmond, Phoenix, Bristol, Talladega, Phoenix).
In 2005, he finished 19th in points after winning a race at Chicagoland Speedway. The reason for the low finish in points resulted from multiple crew chief changes that year at Dale Earnhardt Incorperated (now Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing) that resulted in frustration.
In 2006, he finished fifth in points after winning the spring race at Richmond.
In 2007, he finished 16th in points after failing to win a race. The reason for the low finish in points resulted due to multiple engine failures and mechanical problems.
In 2008, he finished 12th in points after winning at Michigan for his first year at Hendrick Motorsports.
In 2009, he finished 25th in points after failing to win a race. The reason for the low finish in points resulted due to mechanical failure, lack of good communication for the good part of the year with Tony Eury Jr. and lack of improvements seen happening within the team.
With the changes in the offseason and a good start to the year with second in the Daytona 500, this year looks to follow the peaks and valleys trend equaling another good season.