Because I am a huge fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr. it is hard not to notice all the negative sentiment that floats around within my inner circle of raving friends and even among some in the world of NASCAR. This has, in the past, proven to be a lot of pressure for Dale Jr., but it has been pressure he's seemed to handle so far this season. However, with Jimmie Johnson already winning number 200 for Hendrick Motorsports at Darlington and Kasey Kahne just winning the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, Dale Earnhardt Jr. might just be feeling the pressure to win once again while the team as a whole hits its stride.
Despite not winning with a third of the 2012 season in the books, Dale Earnhardt Jr. continues to run consistently. In fact, if he keeps up his current pace he could be looking at one of his best years ever in the Sprint Cup Series. With 12 races completed Dale Jr. has nine top ten finishes, which is only three less than his total for last season and is currently the most of all NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers for the 2012 season. In addition, he has four top five finishes which already matches his 2011 total. What's significant about these numbers is the fact that Dale Jr. finished the 2011 season seventh in the point standings so a continuation of his early success could be a good thing in regards to the points.
Just Needs One
As far as wins go, Dale Jr. needs to only win once this season and he will do something he hasn't done since Father's Day 2008 in Michigan. While it took a little bit of time this season for the rest of the Hendrick crew to start winning, they are winning nonetheless and the cries of why Dale Jr. isn't visiting victory lane are bound to come out loud and clear. This is tough for me as a fan, but it has to be pure torture for Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the pressure to win is likely weighing on him in a big way. Still, he only needs one win to end the winless streak and kill a huge amount of pressure.
As is sometimes the case in NASCAR, when one member of a race team wins the others on the team follow suit. This is not always the case, but with Hendrick Motorsports now seeing two of their four drivers visit victory lane, hopefully there will be more to come. While I root for Jeff Gordon to get to victory lane I really want to see Dale Earnhardt Jr. get there sooner rather than later. In that regard, I hope that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a team player and will get to see some checkered flags before the pressure gets to be too much for him to handle.
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
- Hendrick Motorsports
- Dale Earnhardt
- Dale Earnhardt Jr