Is Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s big move good for NASCAR?

The stadium scene.
June 14 2007 5:03 PM

The Junior League

Is Earnhardt's big move good for NASCAR?

(Continued from Page 1)

In a way, Junior's move to Hendrick is the gutsiest one he could have made. He will have no excuse for losing, other than that he just doesn't have the talent his daddy done had. Junior has complained about DEI's equipment, but at Hendrick, he'll be sitting in a competitive car every week and comparing notes with two of the best drivers in the business. As he told ESPN's NASCAR Now yesterday, Earnhardt wants to know: "Am I a great racecar driver?" It will be fun to find out the answer.

Yet, as a fan of stock-car racing, I can't say I'm thrilled by Junior's choice. The rivalry between Gordon and Earnhardt will be muted now that they're teammates, even if their fans refuse to sign a beer-can ceasefire. That rivalry—the king of beers vs. the king of polymers, the most popular vs. the most accomplished, legacy vs. dynasty—has been good for NASCAR, a compelling and ongoing narrative that has carried the sport through many a boring race and not infrequent cheating scandals.


They probably won't admit it, but the NASCAR brass can't be all that happy with Junior's decision, either. They've been working hard to increase parity in the sport, with the introduction of the controversial Car of Tomorrow and by reducing the number of cars the big teams can field. NASCAR wants races to be won on the racetrack, by the best drivers, not in the garage, by the wealthiest teams.

Earnhardt, with his unmatched earning potential—according to the Charlotte Observer, he alone "accounts for 30 percent of the sport's estimated $500 million in merchandise sales"—just made a rich team richer, and in the long run probably even more dominant. Because of his singular stature in the sport, Junior had the ability to swing the balance of power in racing. No one thought he was going to get behind the wheel of Morgan Shepherd's Racing With Jesus Dodge. But if he had joined Gibbs or Richard Childress Racing, or even struck out on his own, he could have contended for a championship and—get ready for a bad analogy—helped create a Red Sox to Hendrick's Yankees. (Actually, the Red Sox already own half a racing team, but you get the idea.) If I were a very hairy man with an "8" on my back, I'd be excited that my guy's now poised for a run at the Cup. But if I were in NASCAR's front office, I'd be crying into my Budweiser.



Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman” 

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.


The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

Why Men Can Never Remember Anything

The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Why Men Can Never Remember Anything
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Sept. 19 2014 1:56 PM Scotland’s Attack on the Status Quo Expect more political earthquakes across Europe.
Sept. 19 2014 12:09 PM How Accelerators Have Changed Startup Funding
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 3:07 PM Everything Is a "Women's Issue"
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 2:44 PM Where Do I Start With Mystery Science Theater 3000?
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 12:38 PM Forward, March! Nine leading climate scientists urge you to attend the People’s Climate March.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 12:13 PM The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola  The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.