Monday, June 16, 2008


Dale Earnhardt Jr. had been on a 76-race winless streak that seemed to last about 76 years. It all stopped on Sunday when he used logic and luck more than driving skill to win the LifeLock 400 at the Michigan International Speedway.

Running low on fuel the decision was made to stay on the track and not pit for fuel over the final 55 laps. It’s a strategy that would allow him to take the lead and literally coast to the finish. To save fuel Earnhardt would turn off his car and coast during the caution flags and while other drivers stopped for fuel Junior slid into first place.

As he walked into the post race winner’s interview Junior had one word to sum up the day, “Finally!”

“I can understand how it might look, especially if you’re not Dale Jr. fans,” he said. “I know exactly what they’re going to say Monday.

“I mean, my fans are happy and I’m happy for them. The other half are going to tear this apart on how we won this race. But I got the trophy and I got the points. I got to see my team and my owner and my family tonight as happy as they’ve been in a long time. … It’s a pretty big day for me.”
Earnhardt has absolutely nothing to apologize for nor to be ashamed of, understanding that he took the biggest risk of any driver on the track by choosing not to stop even though he knew that he was going to be short on fuel.

“We came in on that last stop and we were going to be about six laps short, and I saved six laps of gas,” Earnhardt said. “So, (we were) just real lucky. I have to hand it to Tony Jr. for being a risk-taker. … He’s done a good job this year getting us good finishes, better finishes than we should probably have.”

Now the question begs as to where Junior ranks among NASCARS elite drivers. Already the fan favorite many felt that the winless streak took away from his status as one of the sports top drivers despite numerous top five finishes. Only time will tell if this win will solidify him as one of those drivers but one thing is for sure, it puts him in the heart of the championship chase!