The dilemma of Dale

Posted May 14, 2007 in Sport.

Dale Earnhardt Junior celebrates a victory at Richmond

The recent decision by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to leave his late father's NASCAR team must have been a difficult one. Up until this point, he has spent his entire racing career at Dale Earnhardt Incorporated (DEI), and I imagine he is nervous about his future. He enjoys a good relationship with Chevrolet, so it seems likely that he will end up at a Chevrolet-based team. But which one?

Many Dale Junior fans would love to see him race for Richard Childress Racing. Much of Junior's fan base has been inherited from his father, who drove the famous number 3 to numerous Winston Cup championships. But Junior is his own man, and he's looking for championships rather than nostalgia. I believe such a move would be a mistake.

Thus far, Hendrick Motorsports has been the most successful organization this year. Three of the four teams in the Hendrick stable are challenging for championship honors. The Hendrick engines are famed for their reliability and horsepower - things which DEI engines have lacked over the last year or two. Many commentators are already predicting Junior will find a home in this organization.

As a Dale Junior fan, I hope he will end up driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, partnered with friends Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin. Junior is a big fan of Joe Gibbs' Washington Redskins, and the organization owns the lease of the number 18 (currently driven by J.J. Yaley). Since the number 8 is not likely to be released by Theresa Earnhardt, the #18 is an interesting possibility.

While thinking about car numbers, to my knowledge, the car number 08 is not currently in use (I believe it was last used by Derrike Cope in 2005). That number would neatly tie in with the #18 at JGR, or the #07 at RCR. It might also be possible for Junior to form his own cup team under his JR Motorsports stable.


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    After the last race at Darlington, NASCAR penalized Tony Eury Jr. $100,000 for iffy wing brackets. The worst news was the loss of 100 driver and owner points for the #8 team. DEI are appealing the severity of the penalty, but NASCAR are keen to set an example with the first Car Of Tomorrow (COT) infraction.

    Posted by Simon Jessey on May 15, 2007.

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    I've been considering the sponsorship implications if Dale Earnhardt, Jr. were to end up at Joe Gibbs Racing. Beer sponsorship is something that JGR are not likely to accept, so Junior would probably have to sever ties with Budweiser. I've done a little mock up of a possible alternative sponsor:

    Mock up of a NASCAR with Coke sponsorship on the hood

    JGR driver Tony Stewart is already a member of the “Coke Racing Family”, as are Junior's good friends Elliot Sadler and Kevin Harvick. I'm sure Coke would jump at the chance to ensure Dale could keep his red Chevy.

    Posted by Simon Jessey on May 17, 2007.