As a fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr. I am always looking for any angle that might lead to an edge for the driver. This season I've done that more than ever before as Dale Jr. has not only ended his seemingly endless winless streak, but he has also emerged as a real championship contender. Now, the fate and uncertainty of Matt Kenseth, who also happens to be the points leader after 16 races, may be the edge that Dale Jr. needs. Then again, it might not.
Kenseth Leaving Roush Fenway Racing
Despite winning the Sprint Cup Series Championship in 2003 and winning the Daytona 500 this season, Matt Kenseth will no longer drive for Roush Fenway Racing in 2013. The team announced an amicable split and the driver, who has never been on another race team since starting full-time with Roush Fenway Racing in 2000, will be replaced by Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
While this type of action isn't that out of the ordinary, the timing certainly seems odd enough. With Kenseth currently leading the championship point standings I would think the organization would want his mind to be on racing now and not where he will be racing next year. This is where I think Dale Jr. just might capitalize.
Mind Only on Racing
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has nothing but racing on his mind these days. After winning at Michigan he is currently third in the championship point standings and only 14 points away from Kenseth. With the winless streak in the books, Dale Jr. is finally able to simply focus on racing and has little in the way of distractions. Kenseth, on the other hand, has to worry about where he will drive next season. The advantage in my opinion goes to Earnhardt Jr.
Might Be a Motivator
The only thing that worries me as a Dale Jr. fan is that being let go by Roush Fenway Racing might be a source of motivation for Kenseth. Because he will need to secure a ride for 2013 and he'll likely want to prove he can more than still drive, he could very well use this situation to fuel his fire and his drive for another championship.
Positive Usually Trumps Negative
More times than not, a positive environment is far better to be in versus a negative one. While Kenseth is currently sitting on top he is now doing so in a negative environment. Earnhardt Jr. on the other hand, is sitting in probably the most positive environment he has ever been in. With a little luck, and maybe just a smidge of 2013 distraction for Kenseth, that might translate into an even better chance to see Dale Jr. get to hoist his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship trophy come November.
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 Jr
- Matt Kenseth
- Roush Fenway Racing
- Dale Earnhardt