Nobody likes the brothers Busch. They’re mean and snarky and they’ll wreck you for no reason. (Kurt and Kyle are also really good drivers, which makes it even worse.) But in the new world of nicey-nice NASCAR it takes a mean and snarky guy to tell the truth, and Busch the Younger told it last week at Dover, Del.
“It’s never Junior,” Kyle Busch told the media. “It’s always the crew chief.”
His many fans have spent many years making excuses for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who’s the most overrated figure in American sports. (That’s unless/until Brett Favre unretires again, in which case he laps the field.) Earnhardt has won one Cup race in 1,100 days. When he was with DEI, it was said he was too good for his wicked stepmother’s shop. But now he has been part of Rick Hendrick’s imperial garage for 17 months, and nothing has changed.
Last week Hendick fired Tony Eury Jr., Earnhardt’s longtime crew chief and also his cousin. Junior ranks 18th in points, putting him a distant fourth on his four-man team. The journeyman David Reutimann, driving for Michael Waltrip’s modestly outfitted group, won the truncated Coca-Cola 600 a week ago. The sport’s most popular driver finished 40th.
At Dover on Sunday, Earnhardt finished 12th and pronounced himself pleased with new crew chief Lance McGrew. That, too, will pass. Soon Earnhardt will again be finishing up the track, as we say in horse racing, and Junior Nation will scrounge for someone else to blame.
Kyle Busch again: “If Junior doesn’t run well again, then [the crew chief] is going to be ‘the problem’ again.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 34, older than his far more accomplished teammate Jimmie Johnson. How long will it be until something actually becomes his fault? How long until Junior grows up?