It took him 10 years. But on Sunday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. publicly took his share of the blame.
During an interview with TNT’s Marty Snider during Sunday’s pre-race show, Earnhardt said, “I knew that, when I came to Hendrick Motorsports, if I didn’t perform well, it was on me.”
It is no secret that Earnhardt has indeed underperformed. He has, as everyone knows by now, one win in his 50 points races driving for Hendrick Motorsports, and even that was controversial.
For years, it was all about excuses for Earnhardt. He pinned his lack of success on just about everything, from the car to the crew chief, from the owner to his pit crew, from the kitchen sink to the planets not being lined up correctly.
But even Earnhardt admits that the excuses went too far.
“My fans and the media were making up excuses when, quite frankly, there were no excuses to be made.”
Mr. Earnhardt, you read my mind. For years, I have been thinking the same thing. I often wondered where it would end. I knew Earnhardt wasn’t entirely blameless, and I had lost almost all respect for him for not taking at least some of the blame.
On Sunday, Earnhardt earned some of that respect back.
As NASCAR’s most popular driver, Earnhardt was looked upon by many as a flawless icon. He could have continued riding that wave for the rest of his career, but chose not to. And for that, I give him credit, and respect.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finally manned up.