He's a pretty consistent fixture at the top of the NASCAR leaderboard now, but it wasn't that long ago that Kevin Harvick had a nasty three-figure winless-race streak of his own, and for that reason he's plenty sympathetic to the long victory-free stretch of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
"I feel sorry for him sometimes," said Harvick, who had a 115-race winless streak after winning the 2007 Daytona 500. "Just to live in his shoes on a daily or weekly basis and answer some of the goofy-ass questions you guys ask him is one thing in itself ... The first thing you guys will ask him after he wins a race is 'when are you going to win a championship.'"
Putting aside Harvick's somewhat skewed view of how the interviewing process really works — until very recently, the first question Junior got was always "what went wrong out there today?" — he's got a point. Junior is under constant pressure, and that compounds itself. Each week that goes by without a win makes it a little bit tougher, a little bit more challenging that next time out.
Plus, it's not like Earnhardt is the only one with a long losing streak. Robby Gordon and Bobby Labonte are nearing 300 races, and Martin Truex Jr. has gone more than a full season longer than Earnhardt without winning. But the name and the team carry weight, and until he gets back to victory lane — which, no joke, could well happen this weekend — the questions will continue.
A tip for Harvick: stay out of comments sections and message boards. Think the media's mean and/or goofy? What the media does to Junior, and to every driver, will seem like a gentle massage compared to what you'll read there.