February 20, 2012
By Brenda Benedict
The Bud Shootout 2012 did not end well for Dale Earnhardt Jr. He was wrecked in lap 54 of the 75 lap exhibition race that officially begins the NASCAR racing season.
Earnhardt led the race for 12 of those laps but through no fault of his own, he was finished racing about two-thirds of the way through the race.
Earnhardt was not frustrated -- or maybe even surprised by the events of the Budweiser Shootout.
"I like this kind of racing better," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said after crashing out of the race. "At least I know what to expect. I feel like I have a better chance with this style than I did last year”.
What kind of accomplishments can we expect from Earnhardt this year? As NASCAR’s perpetual ‘most popular driver’, he has a legion of fans rooting for him. But can he produce? Will this year be different from a disappointing 2011 season?
Earlier in this week, Earnhardt had expressed his desire to get Daytona behind him so he could move to Phoenix International Raceway, where he felt he could do better. In a meeting with reporters, he twice mentioned the desire to control his destiny. He was referring to the style of racing at Daytona which really allows any of the 43 entrants to win the race.
At NASCAR Media Day last Thursday, Earnhardt met with the press and explained his feelings for this race season.
“Frustrated” That was one word that he used repeatedly. He is frustrated with his performance last year. Frustrated with the off-season and not racing. Frustrated waiting to get to Phoenix and the other tracks where he can “control his destiny.”
The first question put to Earnhardt ”Are you going to win the Daytona 500 this year?” He replied in a typical Junior understated style. “We’re going to try.” But then he explained his areas of frustration.
Although Junior thinks that racing at Daytona is fun, he stated, “I’m looking forward to getting to Phoenix and the rest of the tracks to start really getting control of my destiny and try to make some things happen and win some races.”
Frustration continued as the theme of his outlook.
When questioned about the upcoming season, he was quick to reply. “Feel pretty good. Frustrated we didn’t win last year. We came close.”
Frustration was his feeling about not racing in the off-season. “I’m ready to get back. I want to win a race pretty bad so you can’t do that without racing. We haven’t been doing any and that’s a little frustrating.”
“And Daytona is the worst odds for me all year because of the way the racing is here.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans can understand his frustration. Many of remained loyal despite his lack of wins. But the time has come for to him to use his frustration and begin to win some races. Earnhardt assures us that he has been working hard and thinks the prospects are good for this year.
There are myriads of fans who hope he is right.
You can follow me at Twitter @nascarfaithful
The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Insider Racing News, are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of IRN.