I wasn’t ready for this news yesterday morning. Completely blindsided. It hit me like turn 4 in Darlington (heyooo!) I haven’t really been following NASCAR lately because they are actively trying to ruin their own product, but that’s a different blog for another time. The point is that no matter what my level of interest, whenever I see a race on TV or come across results online, the first thing I do is find out where Junior finished. He is my #1 concern when it came to NASCAR, and I share that mentality with millions of other fans. Even when some guy named Jimmy Johnson was busy winning 7 championships and dominating the series, Dale Jr was the king among fans every year and it wasn’t even close. He has won NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver award for the past 14 years in a row. Those are absurd numbers in today’s world where everything new is better than old.
So after 18 seasons in the Cup series it’s finally ending. As I type this I realize he’s been around a lot longer than I can wrap my head around. I keep thinking “how could Dale Earnhardt Junior be retiring?!?!” I mean, yeah he sat out most of last season with a scrambled brain and yeah he’s on the wrong side of 40, but he’s an EARNHARDT. The undisputed* royal family of stock car racing.
SO WATCH SOME STUFF WITH THE BEST DRIVER TO NEVER WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP**
I couldn’t find much on short notice because Junior is like the Derek Jeter of NASCAR. He keeps his head down, doesn’t get into trouble, never fucks up, but is the best at what he did- minus that championship.
Never forget one of the greatest ads ever:
He won the next race at Daytona after his father died there 6 just a few months later:
How about bumping with his father coming to the finish line in an IROC race:
…and let’s finish it up with yesterday’s presser. NASCAR may never recover from this loss, and I’m only half joking.
* maybe the Petty family has an argument. But whatever, not in this blog.
** because NASCAR keeps changing the fucking rules so who knows if he would’ve won by now if there hadn’t been 15 point structures in 20 years.