Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.
Say this for Dale Earnhardt Jr.: the man knows how to cuss. And heaven knows he's got plenty of reasons.
It's been a tough few years for Junior. As if it wasn't hard enough living up to his last name, he's had difficulty adjusting to the new Car of Tomorrow, and has only managed one win since 2006. This year, things were supposed to be different, but he's still consistently inconsistent.
So he arrived at Bristol this week fully aware of the importance of a good run. Not only that, Bristol was the spot where his father pulled off one of his most famous maneuvers, spinning Terry Labonte for a win in 1999.
Moving up in the field at Bristol is like shoving your way through an airport-security line; it can be done, but it takes effort and patience. Junior had worked his way up into the top 10 when he got tagged with a speeding penalty that forced him to shuffle back into the pack.
The issue was Bristol's ultra-tricky pit roads, which demand precise handling and even more precise speed management as drivers wind around the tight turns. Speeding penalties are common, and Junior, after being marched like a disobedient first-grader to timeout, grew ever more angry.
"Don't lay down on me, bud," crew chief Lance McGrew said, and Junior exploded.
"I can't lay down here!" he said. "This is Bristol. I don't ever [redacted] lay down. Don't ever say that again on the radio. Don't need the whole world hearing that."
McGrew kept calm, but Junior was clearly seething. Listen as McGrew describes the penalty, and Junior finally cuts loose:
Still, for as angry as Dale got, he still managed a seventh-place finish and climbed to eighth in the Sprint Cup standings. He's got a lot of famous names -- Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Mark Martin, Carl Edwards -- running behind him right now.
And this should also put to rest any contention that he's not serious about racing. Anybody that gets that mad has some serious passion for his work. Mark this day, Junior fans -- this might just be where it all starts turning around.
Posted Jun 24 2012
Posted Jun 24 2012
Posted Jun 23 2012