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Lending Dale Jr. A Helping Hand

by Dave Grayson
Tuesday, July 05, 2011

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Even with the best team and car in the races, Dale Jr. still cannot win.  Time for NASCAR to give him "The Call"
In the aftermath of the July 2nd Coke Zero 400, at the Daytona International Raceway, it was clearly evident to all that Dale Earnhardt Jr was not a happy man. Why would he be? First off, he lost sight of his Daytona dance partner, Hendrick Motorsports team mate Jimmie Johnson, following a miscommunication regarding a pit stop. Then, on the final lap of the race, he got caught up in the event's second "big one" of the evening and watched a good race car and a potential top ten finish become a wadded up race car that finished 18th.

It was very easy to understand the frustration of NASCAR's most popular driver. He arrived at Daytona with high anticipation, perhaps even a feeling that this was the weekend he was going to end that equally frustrating winless streak that dates back to the summer of 2008. It's the same streak that he's been reminded of on national television, and in the print media, at each stop on the NASCAR Sprint Cup's schedule. 

After the race Earnhardt found himself in front of the media once again under dire circumstances. However, this time was different. He didn't mince words and he made no effort whatsoever to choose his words carefully.

Referring to the his frustrations over the new two car draft system now prevalent in NASCAR restrictor plate racing, he asked "what kind of move can you make? I mean, Jesus man, what kind of freakin' move can you make racing like this? There are no moves to make. You're just holding on trying not to wreck each other and we saw how good we are at that."

Then, much to every one's surprise, Earnhardt challenged the media to state their opinions on the two car draft. "You guys need to get your own opinions and write what you all think about it," he said adding "I think it's probably pretty damn close to mine. Stop putting my damn mouth with y'all and getting my ass in trouble. Y'all write what y'all think. Come on, y'all are good. Y'all have an opinion about it. I read Y'all's stuff. You put us in the damn crow's nest."

I can't imagine how my personal opinion, on the state of restrictor plate racing, could help out Dale Earnhardt Jr, but I like him enough to at least try. Get ready, here it comes "Y'all".

The Coke Zero 400 was 160 laps long. The first 140 of those laps was like watching paint dry. There were times when I had to stand up to keep from falling asleep. This was followed by 20 plus laps of the world's most expensive demolition derby.

However, I'm not sure that this tedium is going to have a huge negative impact on the TNT Network's television ratings. The race broadcast was on a Saturday night and, if you checked your television guide channel, there was basically nothing else on to compete with the race. Having said that, there were moments during the Coke Zero 400 when a rerun of "Law And Order" was starting to look good to me. 

I'm having trouble relating to the fact that a driver absolutely needs a partner to win one of these races and I can't imagine the fans being able to completely relate to that either. The old days of an individual, like Dale Earnhardt Sr charging to the front of the field at Talladega all by himself, appears to be gone forever and that's too bad. 

The so called "big one" is always going to be prevalent in restrictor plate racing. Whether the drivers return to the old school style of plate racing, keep the new two car tandem or even come up with a radically new concept, there's always going to be the possibility of a multi car crash. I hate to see them because of the potential danger to the drivers as well as the collateral damage to the cars, especially the cars belonging to teams who are racing on limited budgets. 

I couldn't help but notice that, during pit stops, the gas man now had the added duty of wiping down the rear bumper with a grease laden rag to make the double car contact work smoother. I wondered why Pam hasn't become the official cooking spray of NASCAR.

Finally I'll never understand how this bizarre thought entered what's left of my mind, but it occurred to me that this new two car hook up actually resembled two cockroaches having intimate relations.

Again, I don't know if these opinions will help Dale Earnhardt Jr in any way, but I was glad to at least try and lend Junior a helping hand.

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