dear dale, it’s not me, it’s you

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (photo credit: Getty Images for NASCAR)I’m a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan and lately things between Dale and I have been, uh, just so-so.

He won one race last year and it wasn’t a really great, clean and obvious win. I feel like there’s something missing from our driver/fan relationship, something that only a truly mesmerizing, hard fought and clear-cut win could cure.

It used to be that when I’d sit down to watch a Cup race I’d be all nervous and anxious for Dale. Nowadays I’m pretty sedated. I know that Dale has it in him to win but those old feelings just aren’t there like they used to be. Even when he’s leading a race I’ve learned to not get my hopes up because something usually goes wrong.

I don’t blame Tony Eury Jr. I don’t know who to blame to be honest with you. Dale isn’t the only guy in the field that hasn’t won a lot either. If you’re name isn’t Jimmie, Matt, Carl or Kyle you’ve got some splainin’ to do of your own.

It occurred to me recently that I don’t feel that same excitement and butterflies I used to get when he’d hop into his racecar. I find my eyes wandering off to other drivers and I feel kind of guilty.

If Dale wants me to feel the same way I did when we first met he needs to produce some entertaining finishes. He must promise to remember where his pit box is and he must remember my birthday (he totally forgot last year! sheesh!). Okay, all kidding aside, I believe in Dale or else he wouldn’t be my number one favorite driver but I need him to give me a reminder of why I wanted to believe in him in the first place.

If this was a normal relationship roses and a really sweet card would cover it but because it isn’t I’ll settle for a top-3 finish instead.

11 Comments

  1. April 13, 2009 at 10:40 AM ·

    Maybe poor Dale is suffering from an eensy bit of performance anxiety. The prospect of repeatedly climbing into one of those 1000-hp behemoths and then murdering the competition might be making it difficult for Dale to get it up, victory-flag-wise.

    I say take away the boy’s $30 million paycheck and see if he still just wants to race. How you gonna render a rich boy wild again?

    Perhaps some soothing words in his ear to relax and enjoy the ride might be of great help (and effect) about now. And promise reams of blog copy if he wins. Mama Bear always knows best how to get Papa Bear growlin’ and grinnin’, right? Maybe he’ll even remember your birthday this time around.

  2. Mlynn
    April 13, 2009 at 7:02 PM ·

    Hmmm not sure what to say or even if it matters but I don’t doubt that you are or were a Dale Jr fan but maybe your expectations were a bit unrealistic? No driver can win every race. 43 drivers and 42 of them are going to be losers. The odds that one driver will dominate and win all the time regardless of how much you like them or how good they are are slim.

    The more I learn about NASCAR the more devoted a fan I become. The more I follow Dale Jr on the track and listen to his in race audio the more I become a fan of his driving. I do not expect super human feats from him, I do not expect perfection from him. I expect him to try, I expect him to be human and occasionally succeed and fail.

    I like the man as a human with talents and faults and to be disappointed in his performance because I think he should be number one is wholly unrealistic. He does something I could only dream of doing as a job. He lives with pressure that others would collapse under. I can expect no more from him then I expect from myself. I expect that I will always try my hardest to succeed. And from Dale Jr and every other driver I expect that they will try their hardest to succeed. Because I do not know what is going on in Dale Jr’s mind or the sum total of all the effort he may put forth out of the cameras eye, I will as I do with everyone, give him the benefit of the doubt that he is trying his hardest to succeed not for me or any other fan but for himself.

    Dale Jr owes me nothing.

    (I don’t know if that rant made any sense – I’m just going on a stream of consciousness deal here.)

  3. The Linc
    April 14, 2009 at 8:45 AM ·

    I so agree with Mlynn.
    How can any REAL fan of any driver not think their driver is doing his very best to win a race. Let’s look at Jr’s climb in points since the first race. Looks to me like he is doing just what we TRUE fans want from him, working his way to the top.
    So lets back off and give him time to get there. GO JR.

  4. April 14, 2009 at 10:43 AM ·

    I really think that Dale Jr and Tony Jr have been together to long. Being first cousins they’ve known each other forever and I think Tony lets Dale run the show on Sundays and it should be the other way. Just a guess but growing up maybe Dale was more of the leader and Tony just did whatever Dale did and now Tony needs to take control on Sundays but can’t or wont.

  5. Michelle
    April 14, 2009 at 5:18 PM ·

    When I read this about Junior it makes me think of Matt a whole lot. I’ve been a fan of his ever since I was a little girl and you know when I see him struggle now it hurts, it hurts so bad that I actually cry. And what’s the worst part is that I would blame him for his poor performance along with the poor finishes but I’m beginning to get over that and look at the other reasons that plays into Matt doing poorly. I don’t blame him because he knows what he is doing most of the time, he knows what is wrong or right with the car, not everytime but a lot of the time and that can play a effect as well. But for Junior, he has to step up, it can’t always be on the crew and the crew chief, he needs to know what he is doing all the time and he needs to know what is wrong with the race car you can’t say that you don’t like the car, there is more that you have to say to get what you want or to fix things. If Dale knew more about the racecars and what is going on then that helps out Tony a lot but he can’t guess what maybe the problem is and just try to find a reason to fix it, he needs to know what is up and I don’t think that Junior isn’t doing just that. See it’s always worth sticking to you drivers through thick and then and if they stumble or get caught up in something that isn’t good, just you know shrug it off and hope for the best because they can’t continue to struggle week after week after week, there is going to be good moments and the bad.

  6. John
    April 15, 2009 at 3:47 PM ·

    I’m surprised at some of these replies. Are you watching the same race I am?? I’m not a Dale Jr fan, but I don’t have a problem with him either. Honestly though, I don’t think his heart is in to racing. He isn’t trying as hard as he could be, how many times has he passed up his pit box? Something HE can easily prevent. “He lacks effort” could never be so true as it is today. Yes not everyone can be great or be the race winner, but theres some drivers who finish midpack in every race but its obvious they’re driving their hearts out

  7. Michelle
    April 16, 2009 at 8:27 PM ·

    Okay I have to double post, but now reading the entire article I know exactly how you feel because I have eight favorite drivers and back then when I started going for them we had a great fan/driver relationship and then all of sudden it’s like nothing really isn’t there. Example like me and Tony, I started going for Tony back in 1999 and I mean I was like crazy obsessed with him and it continued like that until 2003, and that’s when Matt took on over, even though he was my driver before Tony but Tony was the main one for me at that time. But anyways just ever since then just I wasn’t feeling for him as much, yes I still care for him a lot but something isn’t quite there. He’s been going after my other drivers wanting to kick their behinds and what not and yes he’s doing his best but I really do miss my Tony from the days that I really fell for him. Just now when I see him I just feel like a fan not an obsessed fan. I’m still going for him no matter what but it’s just nothing strictly close. But yes I understand what your going through and I understand your feelings because I’m in the same situation, and it’s just not only Tony that I’m feeling that way with.

  8. April 19, 2009 at 1:47 PM ·

    A $30M paycheck is not preventing Dale, Jr. to get a win… I think it is some thing he is dealing with. I have been a NASCAR fan for a very short period of time. Before I was NASCAR fan I was a Dale, Jr. fan…had to find out why my daughter was so obsessed… it appears to me that his heart while still may be on the track his head is clearly some where else. I just hope he clears things up and gets back in the game.

    I agree a driver cannot win each week..he or she should be clearly giving their best efforts and I do not think we have seen Dale’s best efforts.

  9. Barb
    May 15, 2009 at 8:00 PM ·

    I have a feeling that Junior is depressed. His father’s dream just went to crap at the hands of his step mother, his sister had some serious health problems not too long ago, his father died tragically, I know, I know, they are aware of the risks, but still a loss is a loss. Let’s also not forget that he is a child of a broken home. No matter what they have, it effects children deeply. I see it in myself, I see it in my own children. All that stuff catches up with you eventually. He’s also not as hungry as his father. His father depended on it to live. Junior has enough money (as far as I know) that if he quit tomorrow, he’d be fine. Armchair psychology on my part.

  10. nicole raines
    May 23, 2009 at 4:22 PM ·

    man look……. i dont care what iz happening to DALE EARNHARDT JR………! i still get anxious every week………! i sit in my bedroom every week hoping for a win from him…………! when he gets so close to that win or he is in the lead,i cant sit down……………..! it doesnt matter where he finishes to me…….. he is still an AWESOME driver………! my whole family likes the drivers i hate and hate the drivers i like especially Junior…………. but i dont care if you dont like Junior, my heart and loyalty will always be with Junior……..!!

  11. dalesbaby88
    June 24, 2009 at 5:06 PM ·

    Born an earnhardt fan and by god i will die and earnhardt fan. I became a fan of juniors just after his fathers passing. I held that boy in my heart, and mind. i cried for him and with him. he has had his ups and downs but right now he is having a slump. and everyone is jumping ship i cant i just cant, once your a fan i feel your always a fan. I will not leave i will stand tall and i will not falter. I will keep him in my heart and prayers every race day. and if i have too i will protect him from the fairweather fans, and Neysers. i feel Junior will rise again and Junior nation will be right there with him.. loyal only to you junior