There is always something that NASCAR fans must talk about. For the last 10-years or so, that something has been Dale Earnhardt Jr. Before him, it was Bill Elliott. Even before him, there was “The King,” Richard Petty. It’s a trend that occurs in the NASCAR world with a transition of roughly every 15-20 years. There’s always one driver that fans either love or hate.
In a sport with an increasing fan base spread out across the world, it’s safe to say that the over-whelming majority of fans like Dale Earnhardt Jr. His career has given him several reasons to keep going, especially after his late father, Dale Earnhardt Sr., passed away in an event that he finished second within. Earnhardt Jr. has been through a lot in his 16, now 17, years in NASCAR.
He’s hasn’t lived up to the expectations which were created once he entered the Sprint Cup Series after winning back-to-back Busch Series championships in 1998 and 1999. The man is incredible on super-speedway tracks as his drafting skills are by far up to par. However, he’s been through some on track struggles over the past few years.
In 2012, Earnhardt Jr. made a life-changing move as he stepped out of the car and missed his first Sprint Cup Series race since his pre-rookie year in 1999 where he ran only five races. The move was due to his second concussion within a few weeks, showing race fans that he simply didn’t want to risk a life-ending injury on the race track that could haunt friends, family and fans for the rest of their lives, just like what happened with his father’s death.
Earnhardt Jr. may not have the best on-track talent. However, after a rough career, he’s been able to fight through and prove to race fans that he and his Hendrick Motorsports team are capable of winning races and running competitively on a weekly basis.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.