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Jay Busbee

When is it time to give up on your favorite driver?

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For many NASCAR fans, choosing a driver isn't really a choice at all. You don't pick your driver; in many ways, your driver picks you. Without getting too creepy/psychological about it, there's a reason you're a fan of Jeff Gordon and not Dale Earnhardt Jr., a fan of Jimmie Johnson and not Tony Stewart, a fan of Joe Nemecheck and ... wait, you're a fan of Joe Nemecheck? Give him a call, he'd love to hear from you!

Anyway, like all relationships, you and your driver have ups and downs. You're loving life when he's stacking up wins, but if he's not...

If there's a huge differential between expectation and results -- as with, say, Junior -- you can expect to get some grief. On the other hand, for fans of those drivers of whom relatively little is expected, relatively little grief is given. Fans of, say, Matt Kenseth don't take a whole lot of garbage from fans of other drivers; Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer and others are just reliably competitive enough to garner respect.

And for the lower-echelon drivers, the grief is muted, perhaps even sympathetic. Elliott Sadler and Sam Hornish Jr. fans, for instance, get more pity than criticism. (Plus, people tend to get away from walls when Hornish fans are around. You never know when they'll veer straight into them.)

Ah, but what if you've had enough? What if you're a Junior fan and you're tired of the "Hey, has anybody noticed he's not as good a driver as his daddy?" comments? What if you're a Tony Stewart fan and you're tired of the fat jokes? What if you're a Jimmie Johnson fan and you're tired of ... you know what, scratch that last one. Jimmie Johnson fans deserve to take grief at least through 2013. No playing victim when your guy's a four-time reigning champion.

But back to the subject at hand. When you do decide you've had enough of your driver, you need to make the clean break. No stashing his gear in your closet on the off chance he gets better. And no jumping to root for his teammate; that's like dumping your girlfriend and dating her sister. Provocative, enticing, but most definitely not recommended.

So how about it? What, if anything, would make you dump your guy and move on to another driver? (Me, I was a Tony Stewart fan long before I was a NASCAR writer, and I remain his fan even though he's bitten my head off a couple times. Am I supposed to reveal my biases? Heck with it. Now you know.)

Bear in mind, we're not talking about rooting for another driver because your guy has retired, gotten demoted to the Nationwide series, or, shall we say, moved on to that great speedway in the sky. No, we're talking about moving on while your guy is still in the field. Ever done it? Could you imagine doing it? How awkward would it be in the garage if you two crossed paths? Have your say below.

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