Monday, February 16, 2009

No excuse for what Dale Jr. did

This crash during Sunday's Daytona 500, started when Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88) bumped Brian Vickers (83), took out several of the race's top contenders.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- There are no excuses for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

He messed up Sunday. Actually, he messed up several times. He missed his pit stall. He stopped his car on the outside line of his pit box. He put himself and his team in a deep, deep hole and he was doing whatever he could try to dig himself out of it.

And then he really messed up.

On Lap 146, heading down the backstretch, Earnhardt was trying to put himself in position to be the first car a lap down. He made a move to the inside and Brian Vickers, also battling for that same position, saw him coming. Vickers, doing the same thing all drivers do in restrictor plate races, moved down the track to block There's a double yellow line down there, and nobody can go below that to make a legal pass. Not even Earnhardt.

Earnhardt's move was thwarted. His only real option was to back out of his throttle and either try to push Vickers up past the cars to their outside or try to go around Vickers on the high side.
But Earnhardt took another path. He went below the double-yellow and put himself in a position to do something that caused a problem. Which is what he did.

Here's the point. What Vickers did was a racing maneuever. That fact that his car is where it was had nothing to do with him making an error in decision or judgment.

The same cannot be said for Earnhardt. He messed up. He made the mistake. Nobody is saying he tried to wreck half the cars that had the best chance to win the race. Doesn't matter. That's what happened.

And he's going to have to take the heat for it.

His fans have already started making excuses for him and that's fine. That's what fans do. But this one is on Dale Jr.

The question now is what he and his team do about it. Daytona is over and the results are in. Now it's time to go to California and Las Vegas and the races beyond that and funnel the frustrations over what happened in the 500 into something productive.

People are going to argue about what happened in Daytona until there's another race for them to argue about. If Earnhardt starts winning, the error he made Sunday won't amount to much in the long run.

But for now, its THE topic. And for now, this one's on him.

34 comments:

Spanky said...

I'll give you the fact that Jr. was agressive but has anyone just maybe thought that Vickers lifted ?? Nope it is just to damn easy to bash!!! This is racing isn't it? not follow the leader!! When a driver wads up the field up front it is considered to be ok cause he is going for the win!! Same thing here Jr. was trying to get back on the lead lap so he could go for the win. What is the difference? Now if Rowdy did the same thing it would be well we all know he drives that way so again whats the difference

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with you David. Vickers is the person that caused that wreck. That was not the usual block that you see during racing; not even during the final lap. He drove down over half the track and nearly took out the 88. That is not racing and NASCAR should not put up with moves like that. And by the way, this is not from someone that is part of Jr. Nation. I'm a Roush fan and I'm glad the cat in the hat got a win in the big race even though I didn't like it being called early.

Mike Hutton said...

Dale Jr. has handled himself remarkably since the tragic loss of his dad. He had a lot of growing up to do very quickly and handled it very well. Not perfectly - but much, much better than most of us would have under similar circumstances.

But here's the point -- he's not his dad. He doesn't drive like his dad, he doesn't win as often as his dad and he can't intimidate like his dad.

In the immediate years after his loss, he was still learning to drive a race car; then, he had to deal with team dynamics and politics that were not his doing and beyond his control. Now, he needs to establish his identity.

I submit that yesterday's race was not who he is. He's better than that. But who is he? I don't have the answer, only Dale does.

One person he's not however, was the man we lost on February 18, 2001.

Anonymous said...

But ThatsRacin, right? Seems to me it was called competitive when his dad did it and when jr. does it its called inexcusable. Imo, the driver tried to cut off a lane too late.

Dr Rus Jeffrey said...

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Blocking is simply a rookie movie. Kurt "I don't know how to race so I will always block" Busch has wrecked so many people because of his blocking that I've lost count. While Earnhardt Jr went on to say he did not feel sorry for Vickers, I say the blame lands squarely on NASCAR. Blocking is not racing. It's just like and elbow in hockey, or sliding with your cleats up in baseball.

Blocking needs to stop.

Dr. Rus

Tarheelherk said...

Vickers block was as ill advised as Jrs attempt to reenter the track before turn 3. But the truth is this was a wreck as soon as Vickers blocked. Jr had 3 choices, do what he did(wreck), slam into Vickers,ie Bump draft(wreck) or brake(wreck). All three had wreck written all over it. If jr could have entered the track clean, without lifting, was his only shot at avoiding the wreck and keep racing. He tried and misjudged it. Win some, lose some, Thats Racin'! Lets go to California!

Paulie said...

Agreed, 100%... It's all on him.

Anonymous said...

Umm Doc, blocking has been going on since nascar started racing. Are you saying it's always done by rookies? lmao

Anonymous said...

Junior is the most overated driver out there.His diddy was the most overated driver out there when he was alive..always at the center of controversy.If the press would report about Junior like they should week after week then you wouldn't be so shocked to read something negative about him now.The boy can't drive!His diddy couldn't drive.The whole family is overated and has driven alot of fans away from the sport.The last time a Earnhardt caused this much controversy at Daytona was 1998 when the finally gave it to the diddy.
I WORSHIP NO MAN!!!

Anonymous said...

Bodine wrecks half the field in the truck race- no penalty.
Leffler wrecks 3 cars in Nationwide race- 5 lap penalty.
Jr wrecks half the field in the cup race- no penalty.
Where are the penalty's for both Bodine and Earnhart?
If I read everyones comments right, then Stephen Wallace, James Beucher and Brian Vickers are the blame right?

James said...

David Poole is right on this one. The fortunate son had a temper tantrum and showed the world his true merit.

majorshouse said...

I have to agree here. NASCAR played right into the hands of the golden boy and just like his daddy, he can do no wrong even when he does and he shoujld have been penalized just like Jason Lefler was and for that matter, Tod Bodine should have as well.

Anonymous said...

no one has said anything about the car being 1/2 on and 1/2 off the track in the transition area from flat to track. hiting that area is like hitting a curb

Monkeesfan said...

Vickers didn't lift. Junior deserves the blame for the melee.

Monkeesfan said...

Pertinent to the issue but better for a different blog entry is this question -

What does NASCAR think it is preventing with its yellow line rules?

Anonymous said...

I agree 100% with David - Junior is at fault and took out many of the true contenders - of course, Jr.'s perspective (as well as that of his fans) sees things differently - what race were they watching?
However, NASCAR also should be called on the carpet for the total non-call, as expected as it sadly was.

Holleracha said...

Despite all the hype, He is still just an "also ran" and, in the Daytona 500, that also happened!

Anonymous said...

Remember the year at Talladega he went below the yellow line to advance his position and won the race.No penalty then either.
This is why NASCAR is joke.

Anonymous said...

I think this incident was a lap or so after the restart where there a few tail end of lead lap cars in front of the leaders because of green-flag stops? I think Montoya, Robby Gordon, and maybe a couple others. Not that this is siding with the 83 or 88 or explains the incident, but this is one rule NASCAR should look at changing. The leader of the race shouldn't have to restart 5 or 6 cars back (which in reality becomes the 10th or 12th when they're double-file). It seems like anytime we have these restarts, the leader or someone in the top 3 or 4 gets tied up with this nonsense. I think Kyle was 3rd at the time behind Sadler and Sorenson.

caligirl said...

It seems like Jr is damned if he does & damned if he doesn't ....granted he made alot of mistakes on pit road BUT he never gave up. He had the determination to stay in the race & go for the win. A few years ago he was criticized for lacking the passion & just giving up. Face it Vickers drove him into the grass & Jr trys to recover & alot of cars get wrecked in the process....I recall Jr being a victim MANY times in similiar situations....it is caleed RACING!

Anonymous said...

If your front bumper hits his rear bumper and he wrecks, it's your fault.

You have 2 pedals in the car. Choose to use them or not.

Tarheelherk said...

Get over it! Racin accident! As I said before look at his options and he is a racer so lifting wasn't one of them. Had he lifted better than average chance a wreck would have happened anyway! Move on and no NASCAR screwed up Saturday and made the right call Sunday. Keep your damn nose out of it and let them settle it on the track!

Anonymous said...

All I can say is Jr. fans are redneck idiots and wouldn't call the sky blue if Jr. said it was red! He screwed up - oh no, our God might not be a God after all!!!

Hendrick fan anonymous said...

You know every since toyota came in all you hear is how sorry you feel when they get wreck. People are upet at Jr it was a part of the game Dale Sr would have done the same thing in know one would have complain. VICKERS IN 2006 DID THE SAME THING not only took out JR BUT HIS TEAMATE KYLE and BRIAN always was crying about something at HENDRICK'S remember in 2007 Kyle crash and left his team hanging that shows what I belive and many others who knows Nascar kiss their tales last year mostly Kyle no class. Always Jr was cheated by Nascar because the tire was just a inch off the line that should not have been a lap behind anyway.

Scott said...

as for the tire being an inch out of the box, a rule is a rule.... why should we bend that for his Holiness jr.?? The wreck was caused by junior being inpatient. blocking is a part of the sport and too bad, so sad for junior he got blocked. Vickers blocked legally, and junior came back and turned him... I think he should have been pulled right off the track let alone 5 laps... I doubt I will ever go to a race again.

Anonymous said...

Caligirl.... if you look at the replays... Junior was never in the grass.....

Monkeesfan said...

Scott - here's the problem: in NASCAR a rule isn't a rule, because the EIRI clause trumps everything. NASCAR docked Junior for a tire on the pit line but not for passing below the yellow.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,
I do believe you just like to hear yourself talk. LEAD,FOLLOW or GET THE HELL OUTTA THE WAY. Why run someone to the grass blocking with around 75 laps to go. What makes racin so boring these days is that everyone is content to follow the leader. As for SR not a driver 7x champ, I guess all the other drivers let him win those.

Anonymous said...

Monkeesfan..... Actually he didn't pass below the yellow line.... he was pushed down but he didn't advance his position... he just wrecked everyone!!! :)

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Jer said...

Hopefully he hits the wall like daddy and kills himself today!

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