The Earnhardt Tumble Continues
I wouldn't want to be in Dale Junior's head right now. All those questions flying around could be hazardous.
After early success this season, Earnhardt seemed focused and poised to win his first race since Michigan, June 15, 2008 - a long 1,143 days ago.
He drew the pole position for the Budweiser Shootout with new crew chief Steve Letarte. It was a great start to a long Sprint Cup season. He won the pole for the Daytona 500 but a late race accident relegated him to 24th.
Over the next seven races he would finish no worse than 12th and grab three top fives and two top tens. Snaring a fourth at Talladega, Earnhardt Junior was solidly in third for season points.
The next three races saw respectable mid-field finishes for the #88. Junior still managed to hang on to fourth place in the points. The team headed to Charlotte, high expectations all around. Although not qualifying well and starting 25th in the longest race of the season, they had a lot of confidence in the car and the driver. By the late stages of the race, Earnhardt was leading with a very strong car. In what may have been the bullet that chinked the Earnhardt armor, he fell a pint of fuel short and ran out of gas within sight of the finish line. Kevin Harvick and six others zoom past as Junior coasted to seventh.
Earnhardt sucked up the Charlotte disappointment and finished second the next week at Kansas, followed by a sixth at Pocono. NASCAR's favorite son held on to the third spot in points and was still a media favorite to win anytime he set Goodyear rubber on a racetrack
And then they rolled into Michigan, the site of his last victory three years past. In racing you take what you get — sometimes you get everything and other times you get nothing. Junior finished a pedestrian 21st after a less than stellar performance. He was remarkably unremarkable. It was the last week Earnhardt would enjoy the third place standing.Continued on the next page