Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Junior get a win, sort of

Dale Earnhardt Jr. did get a victory this season, even if it wasn't on the track. It came as no surprise that Junior won NASCAR's Most Popular Driver Award for the eighth straight season. Junior is as likeable as any driver out there, but a win or two next season would surely help his reputation.
Which leads to the next point. When team owner Rick Hendrick announced changes for three of his four teams, one of those included putting Junior in the same building with Johnson. The crews exchange information and set those cars up exactly the same way. So, if a set up is good for Johnson it should be for Junior right? While Hendrick is trying to help his non-Johnson teams become stronger, it also puts more pressure on Junior to win. He's really got no excuses now.
And, while you may or may not like Hendrick, the fact that he made changes shows that he's not just basking in the glow of Johnson winning a fifth straight title. It would have been easy for Hendrick to wait until after next season, when Kasey Kahne joins the team to make those changes. But Hendrick is not one who waits around when changes need to be made. Sure, this team's got the best financial resources to compete for titles, but it also has an owner who doesn't accept mediocrity.
Finally, the paving is almost complete at Daytona. It will be interesting to see how the new pavement affects tire wear, with better grip in the corners and the overall speeds. It could also make for some better racing as it will eliminate the bumps that made Daytona a sometimes hazardous place to race.

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