For the first time in over a year, Junior Nation has a reason to smile.
NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver put his #88 Chevrolet on the outside-pole for the season-opening Daytona 500, a race Earnhardt has won before. And his new driver, Indycar diva Danica Patrick, has had a successful first week in the sport, finishing 6th in last Saturday’s ARCA race and earning a spot in this Saturday’s Nationwide race.
But, if you’re a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan, don’t get too excited about things just yet.
Your boy has shown that he has speed. After all, you can’t time in 2nd out of 54 cars and not be a little bit quick. But, if Saturday’s Budweiser Shootout was any indication, the 2010 season could be another long one for Junior Nation.
Earnhardt really didn’t look very good, running at the back of the pack most of the night, and finishing 11th only after a big crash took out 7 cars with 2 laps remaining. He performed so poorly that even his buddy Darrell Waltrip couldn’t help but poke fun at him at one point, saying:
“If you get with the right car, you wind up looking really good. But if you get with the wrong car, you wind up looking like Dale Jr.”
If Junior can’t pick things up on Thursday, it may be a long weekend for the #88 team. But even if he performs well this weekend, that’s no sure indication that he will continue that success throughout the season.
Regardless of what happens on Sunday for Earnhardt, good or bad, don’t look too much into it. The first part of the season that will truly tell us how his season will go is the string of races 2-4, all of which take place at cookie-cutter tracks(Auto Club, Las Vegas, Atlanta), which the majority of the schedule is made up of.
So, even though he may be on the front row for the biggest race of the year, don’t get too excited for Dale Earnhardt Jr. just yet.