Naked NASCAR truth: Junior sells apparel but has no clothes

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.

Who's more overrated?

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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?

65 comments Add your comment

Lowcountry Bulldawg

June 2nd, 2009
7:20 am

Mark,

Thanks for the Nascar blog! Please drop 1-2 of these a week, since Mark Martin has came back full time I have found it interesting to watch Nascar for the first time in 3-4 seasons.

Also note that David Reutimann has the nickname “The Franchise” by MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) hardly a nickname given out to someone who is a journey man. Although we all can question Michael Waltrips eye for talent since his epic failure into being a car owner w/ Toyota!

Big Al

June 2nd, 2009
7:28 am

If Junior had grown up hungry like his Dad did, he would be trying harder and winning more.

NASCAR itself has gone so far down hill that is has become almost as bad as pro hockey and pro basketball. Give me the days of Bill France and Bill France Jr. The drivers were individuals, said what they thought, and fought when they felt they had to fight. They also raced the entire race instead of just the last 20 to 50 laps.

Teresa

June 2nd, 2009
8:05 am

Nail meets head

Chris

June 2nd, 2009
8:06 am

Kyle Busch is the biggest D-Bag in NASCAR!!! He has no heart but I guess that’s what you’re saying it takes to win races??? Junior is not that way! He is not his dad. He drives his own way. GET OVER IT!
Hendrick didn’t fire Tony Jr. He merely reassigned him with another position within the company.

Doggit

June 2nd, 2009
8:13 am

Watch Sport car racing – they turn right too!!

Scott

June 2nd, 2009
8:28 am

Junior is way overated as a driver. Kyle, love him or hate him, is the most talented driver out there. His car/truck control is uncanny.

Scott

June 2nd, 2009
8:41 am

Tony Jr was not fired he was moved , because Hendrick could see it was not the crew cheif it is the DRIVER. He is given the same equipment as the other Hendrick drivers and is filling the pack instead of contending for the championship.

Dick Trickle

June 2nd, 2009
8:46 am

Dale Jr. is a complete joke! Time to get off daddy’s coattails there junebug. Go back to the Busch Series, u might when there once a year.

Casey Bob Speed

June 2nd, 2009
8:49 am

I shore like to blog NASCAR. I had some hind tars pop awhal back and hit the wall and I ain’t been rot since. I may tra sportswritin.

jH

June 2nd, 2009
8:56 am

It seems Junior’s heart has never been in racing. Yes, he enjoyed the limelight with his Father prior to his death, and it appears, he just may have been riding the coatails. I think Junior cares about his family and those friends close around him, but the pressure to compete, win races, and championships has taken its toll. He is does not have the talent of the Busch bros. Junior would make a good car owner.

Kim Bichner

June 2nd, 2009
9:09 am

I think you are very wrong!!! Dale Jr has alot of talent! I would rather be a Dale Jr fan than a Kyle Busch fan! You ask when Junior is going to grow up? He always talks to the media no matter waht kind of day he had on the track! After 3 flat tires this weekend where was Kyle? Not talking to the media and pouting as usual!!! I would like to see you get out there and drive a race car with the last name of Earnhardt! I will be a Dale Jr fan Forever!

Mark Bradley

June 2nd, 2009
9:19 am

Having been around Dale Earnhardt Jr. a bit, I can report that he seems like a really nice guy. But results, unfortunately, are kind of important in any sport, and he isn’t getting the right ones.

SimpleDawg

June 2nd, 2009
9:20 am

Junior’s more Dick Trickle than Cole Trickle, but what the hell….somebody has to be 36, 37, 38, 39…….etc. Poor ol’ Junior, all of that acclaim, fame, and change….just no wins. But we all know, the chicks dig the wallet, not the trophies.

I never liked the Old Man, but Junior is a very likeable fellow….I just wish he could win a few races, although he’s certainly no “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville”.

Reid Adair

June 2nd, 2009
9:28 am

This poll result SHOULD be one-sided. Brett Favre has a championship; Dale Earnhardt Jr. never will.

Hendrick Motorsports should not worry about crew chiefs. They should tell Jr. to worry about pressing the gas pedal and racing instead of doing commercials.

chad

June 2nd, 2009
9:34 am

Everyone expects him to be like his daddy, just isn’t going to happen. Look at Kyle Petty. He is a perfect example. Sometimes the apple does fall from the tree.

Terrible Truth

June 2nd, 2009
9:44 am

Though a little (very little) more competitive than Kyle Petty was, he still, like Petty, trades on his old man’s name and basically just rides around every weekend. But, it beats a regular job, he’s making good money and nailing good lookin’ women, if he can live with the not winning part, more power to him. He’s like South Carolina football, he doesn’t win much, but the fans turn out in droves.

Bill

June 2nd, 2009
9:49 am

Mark you do cover the field, thanks. ” Cavuto”

Little E has won 1 race out of 57?….agree he’s over rated. Kyle Busch has won 10 or more this year counting everything. Mean are just a damn good driver? Oh, Little -e ,will wreak your a@@. He has caused several this year, but to his fans he can do no wrong.

What’s happen to the great # 24? Whats his excuse?

Willy Wally

June 2nd, 2009
9:54 am

I like the guy. He was my favorite driver. Honestly, I too often turn off the races when he ain’t running good, which, sadly, is all too often these days. Don’t know why it all fell apart after the 2004 season, but this is now season five or so of stinking. I just don’t think he’s focused, and I don’t think he works out hard enough. If he worked out more, and partied less, he might not wilt so much during races and seasons. People think NASCAR is not an athletic event, but it does take a good amount of strength and endurance to go 500, 600 miles 35 times a year. The less in shape you are, the less your body and your mind will be able to withstand the rigors of the long races and long seasons.

I think Junior needs to rededicate himself to conditioning, less partying, and more racing. Kyle Busch would run every darn race all week long if he could. He loves racing, competing, winning, showcasing his skills that much. It seems to me that alot of struggling drivers seem to do better if they race more, especially in things like truck or the Busch series, where the results don’t matter as much, and you can just race for the simple thrill of it.

KG

June 2nd, 2009
9:54 am

You can teach a monkey to drive a NASCAR! NASCAR is the WWE of racing! And anybody that thinks that ANY NASCAR driver can compete in any other form of motor sport is a fool. I’ve worked in the ALMS, ROLEX and the FIA GT and there’s not a single NASCAR driver that is on the level of any driver that competes on a worldwide level.
I even worked with AJR at the 24hrs of Daytona, Both of the Earnhardt’s struggled to even get the factory Vette’s out of the pits, and after stalling the car twice(sr), and three(jr) times they were in the fastest car on the track still running 3.5sec off the pace of the other drivers on their team! Get some real heroes NASCAR fans!
The mediocrity of your talent pool only adds to the stupidity of driving in a circle! Sad but true! GM and Chrysler might still be in business five years from now if they were building proven street cars by developing REAL race cars! Im sure that’s banging around like a bb in a battleship in the heads of most of NASCAR fans but it’s true!
Jr sucks! Any one can be a NASCAR driver! Im a 9 year motor sport vet, 9yrs as a composite tech working on REAL RACE CARS w/ REAL DRIVERS and REAL MECHANICS and REAL PIT TEAMS!

Derrick Cope

June 2nd, 2009
9:55 am

Dale Jr. has always been vastly overrated. Just imagine how bad this guy would be if he were on one of the teams with far fewer resources. If that were the case he would have had a hard time being in the top 35. Let’s face it. He tries hard but he just isn’t very good.

turkey

June 2nd, 2009
9:57 am

Being a NASCAR fan it pains me to say this but Danica Patrick is a more talented driver than Dale Jr.

Cooter

June 2nd, 2009
9:58 am

RE: “Naked NASCAR truth: Junior sells apparel but has NO clothes”

Hey, the same could be said for felonious disgrace and subpar professional “athlete” MIKE VICK !

MountainDawg

June 2nd, 2009
10:13 am

Jr. is a bit overrated, but has had some success & does have talent. However, he lacks the grit/tenacity of his Daddy & seems overly fixated on being an “anti-hero”/maverick while milking the media spotlight & sponsorship gravy train. He tries too hard to be non-traditional, and needs to get back to the basics.

Winder Dogg

June 2nd, 2009
10:19 am

KG post your resume on a different site…we are reading about Earnhardt not you!

Willy Wally

June 2nd, 2009
10:23 am

GM and Chrysler might still be in business five years from now if they were building proven street cars by developing REAL race cars! (KG)

Oh, yeah, you hit the nail on the head! That’s why GM and Chrysler are going under! LOL What a joke. Run along now.

Willy Wally

June 2nd, 2009
10:25 am

How does a discussion on Dale Earnhardt, Jr. turn into a diss on Mike Vick by a goober named Cooter?

SimpleDawg

June 2nd, 2009
10:30 am

KG….you sound like a FOS blowhard. Your comments make you appear to be either a jilted lover ( couldn’t get a job in NASCAR ) or a moron….maybe both.

Karl Childers

June 2nd, 2009
10:33 am

I like to eat my potted meat while watching dem cars go round and round….

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm………

Hotrod

June 2nd, 2009
10:53 am

Time to put Jr. in the RCR #3
Now that will give the fans something to cheer about.
He is running for show now anyhow.

Gatorzone

June 2nd, 2009
10:55 am

Nascar has gotten too boring to watch. The changes over the last 20 years have decimated a once great sport.
Restrictor plates began the problems. Then, we have the rule of no more racing back to the yellow flag. then the “lucky dog” rule to compensate for that makes racing a joke.
They have legislated the drivers to the point of pure boredom! Tony Stewart kept it exciting for awhile until he got tired of paying fines, now he is boring too.
The next debacle is the stupid “race to the chase.” That totally is a terrible system that eliminates the majority of the field toward the end of the season.
Now we have this POS called the “car of tomorrow”
When did “stock” car racing decide to abandon all differences between cars. This sport is going the wrong direction as evidenced by attendance figures.
NASCAR IS JUST BORING NOW!!!

Dick Trickle

June 2nd, 2009
11:08 am

Its about time someone had the grape fruits to call JR out on his lousy performance at HMS. He is a disgrace to his daddy’s name! If SR were alive, he would of fired his lousy a$$ three years ago.

PACK OF SMOKES

June 2nd, 2009
11:10 am

I love jrs bulge in his commercials.

BS Patrol

June 2nd, 2009
11:17 am

What Gatorzone said!

Brenda

June 2nd, 2009
11:31 am

GREAT article!! Yes, Eury Jr. was “”moved”".. technically, but he was fired from being crew chief. Until they work on the real problem, the driver, it won’t be fixed. And, good for Kyle for saying the truth. Kyle is awesome!!!

Junior Stinks

June 2nd, 2009
11:39 am

Dale Jr. is nothing like his dad, he is more like Kerry Earnhardt than he is like Dale Sr.

The only reason all of you rednecks love him is because he gives you that connection to the past, to the “Intimidator”. Who, by the way always said what he felt and rubbed people the wrong way. Similar to a young Kyle Busch.

When it is all said and done, Dale Jr will be more like Kyle Petty and Kyle Busch will be more like Dale Sr.

Just wait and see…

All I'm Saying Is...

June 2nd, 2009
11:42 am

Goodness knows that Brett Farve is overrated (Fran Tarkenton was right) but he did win a Super Bowl so I would not even say that Dale Jr. is in his league. Unfortuantely, Dale Jr. has more in common with…Anna Kournikova—-boatloads of endorsement income but very little money or titles earned competitively…plus they both talk funny!

rlinaug

June 2nd, 2009
12:12 pm

I”m a big fan of Karl Childers. I laugh every time.

Sicem

June 2nd, 2009
12:15 pm

Jr. is no race car driver and if his dad didnt wreck the best drivers to win most of his races he would only have maybe 2 championshps. Never cared for either one of them. I will say that the races were more interesting when Sr. was around because then I had someone to hate.

UnderDog

June 2nd, 2009
12:21 pm

You pretty much hit the nail on the head with your question about Jr. growing up, Mr. Bradley. I’ve been saying this for years. He spends too much time running with his “posse”, opening up new bars, and playing x-box when he should be spending more time with the racing team, practicing, and establishing a better working relationship with his pit crew. Indeed, when WILL he grow up and take his occupation more seriously and approach it in a more intense manner?

used to enjoy racin

June 2nd, 2009
12:53 pm

Junior would probably laugh (all the way to the bank!) at some of these comments while he counts his money.

Guy above hit it on the head about the boring aspect of nascar…the all look alike, have same HP, cannot race back to flag, don’t have to worry much about making up a “lucky dog” lap…but just must keep the $30MM sponser happy.

Mac

June 2nd, 2009
1:11 pm

Back before Dale died and the WWJD bumper stickers were popular, a guy I worked with had a sign at his desk, “WWLED.” What would Little E do? He has never and cannot ever live up to the hype.

Janeen

June 2nd, 2009
1:12 pm

All you see on here are Jr bashers, including the writer. Not Jr fan but hate Whiney Kyle Busch. He could not wait to try to trash Jr. with cc change and all it did was prove what a arrogant jerk that thinks he is better than everyone else. He would NOT make a pimple on either Sr or Jr’s Butt. It sounds to me everyone is jealous of Dale Jr.Hey if you got it go with it. Jr just happens to have it apparently. I think Jr lost his way when his daddy died. He does not deserve you all bashing the why you do. That young man even after the crap Kyle or anyone else talks about him always shows he is a better person and never heard him
try to begrade anyone. That is a true champion in my book!

marshall

June 2nd, 2009
1:27 pm

I think all of us should step in to JR’s shoes and see if we could with stand the pressure. UNlike no other sibling in ALL sporst has someone had to live in the shadows that Jr does. It is a far bigger shadow than Klye Petty ever had cause Dale Sr was taken Tragicly and her was Jr. Still trying to develop as a drive, when he was thrust into this huge shadow. A huge fan following searching for answers and he was put into a situation i dare say no of us could have handled well. Now take Earnhart off of his name and look at him as a driver. He is Mark Martin, Sterling Marlin, Ryan Newman, Clint Boyer, Kyle Bush…good driver who has won a championship. Yes Kyle has one alot of races lately in all series, but no championships in any of them. At leats Jr has to nationwise series championships. As for the guy who thinks if his father was alive he would fire him, and for the person who thinks he was to good to work for terasea: If his dad was alive he would be better focased,less pressure, still driving at DEI in the number 8. as far as crew chiefs go, they ar a dime a dozen, look how many people brad parret has been crew chief for. Chad Kanus said it best last night on this week in nascar, if it had been any other crew chief change beside dale jr. it would be a mute issue. I bet there have been atleats 5 five chew chief changes before this on. Rouse and RCR do it all the time. The fact of the matter is some people just want to hate on JR. I like Jr, wasn’t a huge Sr. fan but respected the guy. One thing is for sure, Dale Sr. would have got in Jr’s face and got his mind right, but he also would have told all you haters to shut the H*** up and if you don’t like it line up and get you but whipped.

Hillbilly Deluxe

June 2nd, 2009
1:44 pm

I’ve never met Dale Jr. and I’m sure he’s a nice enough guy but he’s basically just an average driver.

On Dick Trickle: If you only saw him drive in Winston Cup, you never saw the real Dick Trickle. He was in his late 40’s before he ever got a regular Winston Cup ride. He had over 1200 feature wins (estimated, nobody knows for sure) on the short tracks around the country. Back in the 70’s (1973 I think) he was the winningest short track driver in the country with over 70 wins. I saw the man race many times when he was in his prime and he could wheel.

Kurt Busch: Love him or hate him; he can drive a race car.

To me, NASCAR has never been the same since about the early 80’s when the emphasis went from winning races to winning championships. Back in the 70’s you had David Pearson with the Wood Brothers, Donnie Allison with Hoss Ellington, etc. who didn’t run all the races and didn’t care about points. They were strictly there to win the race and it raised the level of competition. Once a few years ago, I heard a driver (I forget which one) say, “I had a chance to win the race but I had to think about the big picture and not push it”. I about puked. You’d never hear a real racer say something like that.

Ken

June 2nd, 2009
1:55 pm

Isn’t it ironic as hell that Earnhardt fans are ripping Kyle Busch. The firey youngster is the closest thing the sport has had to Dale Earnhardt since he was in his prime. I love this guys “checkers or wreckers” mentality.

blue fox

June 2nd, 2009
1:57 pm

NASCAR should spend whatever is necessary to entice Danica Patrick into the Car of Tomorrow, and I don’t mean in the back seat! NASCAR badly needs a jolt, and Danica is the outstanding race car driver with the looks, public recognition and Busch-like competitiveness to provide it (plus she’s got a healthy temper). Helton and the bigs should also do more than provide token lip service to developing more Black and Hispanic race drivers, ever notice when the grandstand crowd lifts out of the seats, its (literally!) Lily White?? How sustainable is that in tomorrow’s U. S. demographics??

Just too funny

June 2nd, 2009
1:58 pm

Thank you Mark Bradley. This says it all for those of us who aren’t hiding behind #88 sunglasses.

Dale Jr. is just as good as Steven Wallace! Two guys who are only in the sport because of their dads.

Ken

June 2nd, 2009
2:04 pm

I’m waiting for Warren Wallace!

Mark Bradley

June 2nd, 2009
2:34 pm

Thanks, Just Too Funny. Thanks, UnderDog.

Jamerson

June 2nd, 2009
2:34 pm

Actually, it was Lauren Wallace. And I miss him, too. Its a shame the relationship between Mike Wallace and GEICO had to end.

And apparently, at some point, its become “cool” to be a Junior basher. Not sure when that happened. I don’t see how anyone can question Junior’s drive to have more success. If all he was interested in was money, he could have stayed at DEI and still be raking it in. Of course, alot of people are going to say that he moved to Hendrick just to cash in on people buying new gear. But if that was his main reason for switching, why not go to RCR and drive the #3 car? That would have resulted in even more sales. And it would have made a large part of his fan base MUCH happier than his decision to be Jeff Gordon’s teammate. I’m surprised Junior didn’t lose more of his fan base by making that move.

There’s also alot of people who say that Junior spends too much time with his “extra” activities, like video games and Whisky River, and it pulls his concentration away from racing. But many of the press people say that Junior spends more time with his race team than any other driver. They say that he rarely leaves the track during a race weekend and is always one of the last drivers to leave the track after a race. Many of you suppose that you know exactly what Junior does between races during the week. But you don’t. You have no way of knowing. Very few of us do. I have heard it said, though, that he spends little to no time at his bar. And I have heard straight from his own cousin who works in the store at JR Motorsports that he spends at least 1 full day (sometimes more) of his off time at JR Motorsports taking care of business related to the race team.

I sincerely hope that the crew chief change on the #88 team works out as good as all of Junior’s fans hope it will. I hope he starts winning races, making the Chase, and eventually getting one or more of those Cup championships that have eluded him. It won’t matter in terms of Internet chatter, I guess, because the Junior bashers will still give reasons why everyone but Junior should be credited with any success the #88 team has. But Junior’s fans will know the real reason… that their driver was just as talented as they’d hoped all along, and now he’s got the capability to prove it.