Dale Junior needs some Old School Knowledge, Leadership on Pit Box

                       June 2009                                                   Dale Wilkerson 

Folks have been asking for something to happen due to the performance of the #88 Amp Energy Drink Chevrolet of Rick Hendrick Racing.

                When it is said like that, it just sounds like any other race car doesn’t it? But this car isn’t normal; it is the car of Dale Earnhardt Jr.

                Tony Eury Jr. was reassigned inside the Hendricks race operation while Lance McGrew will serve as Junior’s interim crew chief. Junior knows he has got to improve.

                He sells more souvenirs’ than any other driver. Fans have voted him as the most popular driver every year since 2003. Junior has won that title six times while Bill Elliott won it for 16 times.   

                There are some of the talking gear heads of the world that believe that since Junior is not winning, that is why races are not selling out. That blame can’t be put on Dale Earnhardt Jr, I mean, is it his fault Chevrolet is having trouble selling cars? I don’t think so, maybe it is the current economic state of the country.  

                That said, does Junior need to improve? Yes. He is with the best Chevrolet team in racing. Jimmy Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Mark Martin have all won races this year, and all three currently hold a spot in the top twelve in points. Meanwhile Junior has been caught up in wrecks, caused wrecks (that big pile up at Daytona,) missed pit stops, and currently stands 18th in points.

                Junior did run inside the top ten Sunday at Dover, and finished in 12 spot. To make the chase, he needs to finish around at least 12th for the remaining races before the chase field is set.

                Rick Hendrick is looking for the right crew chief to get Juniors’ mind right, to borrow a line from Cool Hand Luke, and that will not be a young guy. Hendrick needs to get an older crew chief on the top of that box.  One tough enough, and won’t mind to tell Junior ‘point blank’ how things are going to be.

                After winning his first championship, the late Dale Earnhardt joined up with Richard Childress for a few races in 1981. The end result was a bunch of blown motors. The elder Earnhardt then spent two years with a team that helped make him a better race car driver; Bud Moore Engineering.

                A lot of the documentaries you see today seem to omit the fact Dale Earnhardt, who drove the GM-Goodwrench Chevrolet from 1988 until his untimely death in 2001, once drove a Ford Thunderbird. That’s right Mr. Goodwrench drove a Ford.

                The Ford teams were struggling to keep motors together and Earnhardt learned a lot of patience while working for Bud Moore, and Moore was tough enough to get the Intimidators’ attention. Earnhardt started his legend at Talladega in Bud Moore’s 1983 Wrangler Jeans Ford, as he picked up his first win at the Alabama speedway over Darrell Waltrip.

                A dose of Bud Moore would do Dale Junior a world of good.

                Teresa Earnhardt, Junior’s step-mother and the widow of Dale Sr. said a few years ago, that Junior needed to decide if he wanted to be a public figure or a race car driver.

                Junior knows he needs to improve his on track performance, and if he doesn’t more of the talking gear heads my start saying, Teresa was right!