For over a decade now Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been hands down the most popular driver is NASCAR. He has won favorite driver poles and been the top merchandise seller year in and year out during his career. Unfortunately for him and his fans, popularity doesn’t always translate to success. Well, its been a long time coming but Earnhardt is finally giving his fans what they deserve.
Earnhardt opened 2014 by winning the Daytona 500 for the second time in his career. In the wake of that win he joined Twitter and spent a week telling everyone how much pressure having won takes off of him and his team. Earnhardt showed how pressure free he was when his finished second in Phoenix last week.
With reduced pressure comes the opportunity for him and his team to take more chances.
On Sunday during the Kobalt 400 in Las Vegas, Earnhardt and his team rolled the dice. With a win already in their back pocket, the No. 88 team pushed their gas mileage to the max in an effort to win for the second time in three weeks. They ended up falling half a lap short on fuel and had to coast to a second place finish.
Some might think that losing a race that way is devastating. I say that if it wasn’t for Earnhardt’s new stress free and opportunistic nature, he wouldn’t have even been in a position to win in Las Vegas. Upon entering the media room following the race, a light-hearted Earnhardt placed a 16 oz. can of Mountain Dew on the table to signify how much fuel would have gotten them a win.
As Earnhardt continues his success his fans continue to bathe in his glory. For years Earnhardt fans had to deal with taunts about how their driver is sans a championship and never wins races or is consistent. Earnhardt has become statistically the most consistent he have ever been over the last couple of seasons. In 2014 Earnhardt has won and put NASCAR on notice that he plans on contending every week.
Despite years of not producing results, Earnhardt fans have been the most loyal. That loyalty combined with this years success has given Earnhardt fans the payoff that they have been waiting for and deserve. For Earnhardt and his fans the ultimate payoff would of course be a championship. There is a lot of racing left this season but it’s clear that right now everyone is believing.