Let me start by saying that some of the things I may say in this post might sound harsh to other Dale Jr. Fans. I can assure you that I am not meaning them that way. I am just going to comment on some of the things that I have seen and think may be things worth looking at changing for the future.
Lets first start by looking at what happened to Dale this past weekend. He qualified to start in the tenth position and was logged as the fastest car on the track in Saturday’s first practice. Now, in the pre-race Dale made the comment that the track temperature for the race was much warmer than it was in any of the practice rounds which means that the car was naturally going to be somewhat loose on the track starting out. Dale also said that Tony Eury Jr. (Dale’s crew chief and first cousin) and the crew had made some adjustments to the car for the new track conditions. Well they apparently went the wrong way with the changes as apparent from the way the car ran from the time the green flag dropped. Of course the whole blown tire issue didn’t help matters, but we will get to that.
So, being that just about the whole season has gone this way, with the exception of the win at
First there is the new car. Granted, I know that the teams all ran the new cars some last year, but was that really enough to get all the information they needed to run the cars full time this season. I mean, there are several major differences between last year’s car and this one. There is the weight factor, the size of the cars, and just the general layout of the mechanics of the car. By that I mean the way they are built. The new car handles so much different now, which changes they way the drivers…well… drive, and the way the crews and crew chiefs work on the car and the set-up of the cars. Basically, most of the info that all the teams have gathered for the last few years on each track can be tossed in the trash, and he can’t really go off of what his new teammates do because all of them drive so differently. They have talked about that before themselves.
With that said, secondly, there is the crew itself. Dale is with an entirely new crew and new team. A crew that is still trying to find itself and come together as a team, learning to work together and how to deal with each other. In this department, the only thing that is the same for Dale is the crew chief, Tony Eury Jr. Tony came over to Hendrick with Dale from DEI and not only is he Dale’s crew chief, but also his first cousin. Now this could be a real problem. They have had their problems in the past working together even at DEI. They aren’t capable of talking to each other like a driver and crew chief should. Because they grew up together, they talk with each other like brothers, and fight like them too. I honestly believe that it is one of those relationships that if one says the sheep is white, the other will say it is black just to disagree. This may be a lot of the problem with car set-up issues, and maybe Henrick should try putting someone else in the chair for a little while and see what happens. For instance, maybe Darin Grubb that filled in for Jimmie Johnson while Chad Kanaus was on suspension.
Third, Dale is at an entirely different company. He has gone from a company that was part owner of and could do anything he wanted, to a company where is he is basically just a role player that has to conform to rather strict rules. I really think he is having a lot of trouble with this aspect. For so many years Dale done whatever he wanted to when he wanted, and whatever he wanted done was done, no questions asked. Now he has to listen to and do what he is told instead giving the orders. Luckily it is well documented that he and Mr. Hendrick have almost a father son relationship and have a lot of respect for each other. Plus we know this to be true because every week we see Dale breaking one of Mr. Hendricks rules and nothing done to him about it. If you are wondering what that rule is, well, Henrick has a rule that all drivers must be clean shaven at the track and at personal appearances. If you notice when the season first started Dale was always clean shaven every time you saw him on TV. Now he is back to having the scruff on his face like he hasn’t shaved in a day or so.
Fourth, we have the tire issue that all teams have been dealing with this year. Nascar has had new tires at several of the tracks this year that were just terrible. For instance at the Indy 500, every so many laps there had to be a competition yellow flag thrown because the tires could only take so many laps before they were shredded to bits. I personally thought that was awful, to be at one of the major races of the series and not even be able to really race. This brings us back to the blown tire from this past weekend at
And last but not least we have the driver himself. Now here is where some people may get mad at me. Don’t get me wrong, I like Dale as much as anyone, and as I said before, I will back him until he drives his last race. But, I think there are some things he needs to change too. Let’s take how much time he spends with his team. Now granted, all of Dale’s fans know he has his own Nationwide 2 car team to run which is fine, but maybe he could find some people to take care of the smaller issues he deals with that would free up some of his time. Also there is the new night club that Dale just opened in downtown
I really think, again just my personal opinion, that is Dale had a few less distractions he may do a little better. Now I am not saying he hasn’t had a good year, I mean he is in the chase, has 1 win, 9 top 5’s, and 14 top 10’s. That is a complete 180 form last year, but he has a lot of new things to deal with this year and I think he should maybe focus just a little more if wants to win a championship. Things aren’t just going to fall in his lap for him at Hendrick like it did at DEI. But I would love to hear what all of you think.