After making a couple of mistakes at Bristol and finishing in 12th place, Dale Earnhardt Jr. secured a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. As a huge fan of Dale Jr., this is great news, but I am cautiously optimistic as he prepares to go after his first Sprint Cup Championship. Even though his past few seasons haven't been much to speak about, he has been in this position before and has had personal blunders cost him big time.
Hopefully, in 2012, he can keep the blunders away and capture the title.
No More Moonlighting
In 2004, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was right in the thick of the points race and then had an off-week incident where he crashed a CR-5 racing Corvette during a practice for a LeMans Series race. The crash saw him suffer burns to his body that would make it impossible for him to run the next two races on his own. While he started the races, he had to have relief drivers run after a bit and that went a long way toward killing his season's momentum. That moonlighting blunder was one that could have been avoided.
Choose Words Wisely
As bad as the off-week wreck was, nobody can forget later on in the 2004 season, at Talladega, when Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the checkered flag and the points lead with only a handful of races left. Suddenly, it seemed like blunder No. 1 was in the past. Then, in his victory-lane interview on live television, he was asked what it meant to him to win there five times. This is when blunder No. 2 reared its ugly head. His sentiment was about how great his father was at that track, but he started off by saying ,"It don't mean s---." This resulted in him losing 25 points and the points lead.
Blunders Add Up
Dale Jr. never recovered from his cursing blunder and ultimately finished fifth in the point standings at the end of the 2004 season. While much further out than the 25 fined points, I believe it was that speaking blunder, on top of the earlier moonlighting blunder, that led to the collapse of his title run. Though lessons were learned, I'm sure, in the end, a title was not meant to be.
Leave the Blunders Behind
So far in 2012, Dale Jr. has run masterfully. He is consistent and even seems to bounce back from trouble when it arises. However, as in the past, it only takes one small blunder to end a promising run. As a fan of Dale Jr. I am hopeful that he leaves all the blunders behind for the rest of the season so he is able to hoist his first Sprint Cup Championship at Homestead in November 2012.
Jimmy Collins has been a loyal fan of NASCAR since he was a child attending races watching Dale Earnhardt run the famous number 3. He still attends numerous races each season and enjoys writing about NASCAR, particularly in regards to Dale Earnhardt as well as Dale Earnhardt Jr.
More from this contributor:
- Motor Racing
- Sports & Recreation
- Dale Earnhardt