Initial thoughts on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s retirement decision

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has decided to retire after this season, as announced Tuesday morning by Hendrick Motorsports.

The news just broke, so I’m still collecting my thoughts, but here are some early reactions:

— We all knew Earnhardt would stop probably racing within the next few years, but it’s still really jarring now that the news is real. To see the words “Dale Earnhardt Jr.” and “retiring” sort of leaves a pit in the feeling of your stomach, because it’s really the end of an era. When you take into account that a very large percentage of NASCAR fans are part of Junior Nation, there will be many people who feel lost, saddened and unsure of where this leaves them now. The positive for them is they’ll have 28 more races to watch their favorite driver and prepare to say goodbye instead of just dealing with a sudden departure.

— In February of last year, I tagged along with Dale Jr. for a day to visit one of his car dealerships in Florida. The conversation turned to how much longer he might want to race (this was before the concussion) and something he said has stuck with me.

“I’m in great cars,” he said then. “How long will I have great cars? When I’m not in great cars anymore, driving cars might not be fun. I’ve saved my money, so I don’t have to be doing this. But I love it, because I’ve got great cars.”

We’ll find out more about his reasons during a retirement news conference later today, but he doesn’t seem to be having as much fun this year. His team isn’t running well or getting good finishes and he’s already in a big hole for making the playoffs — and it’s still only April.

It makes sense that would ask himself: Do I really want to do this all of this year and next year if I’m not going to be running up front and winning?

I don’t have any insight into his reasoning, but I’m guessing that played some sort of role.

— One driver does not make a sport. But Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Earnhardt made up a trifecta of star power — with Earnhardt being arguably the biggest star NASCAR has ever had — that transcended racing and could reach across the lines of sports and pop culture.

No, NASCAR isn’t going to die just because Earnhardt is leaving — nor will it be on life support. But NASCAR is sick, and it’s serious.

After Gordon left, there was unquestionably an impact on NASCAR attendance, TV ratings and interest. Some fans followed him throughout his career and were putting up with things they didn’t like about NASCAR just because they wanted to still watch their favorite driver. Once he was gone, they stopped watching and attending.

The same will happen with Earnhardt, but perhaps on a larger scale. That’s not good for a sport that’s already been struggling.

Thanks to the TV deal where FOX and NBC overpaid by billions, NASCAR (and the tracks, which get TV money) will be stable financially for awhile. But these next five or so years will be absolutely crucial in the sport’s history, because now is the time where NASCAR either builds new superstars or continues to trend downward.

Look, Earnhardt wasn’t going to be around for much longer regardless of whether it was this year or a couple years, so the time was coming when NASCAR would have to figure out how to exist without leaning on him. As it turns out, that time is starting in 2018.

— It’s a relief to know that Earnhardt will (hopefully) be leaving the sport by his own choice — not one made by doctors.

During that interview last year in Florida, he said: “The one thing I’m scared of is you’re physically injured and it just ends. It’s jerked out from under you. You don’t want that. You want it to be on your terms. Like, ‘Alright man, I think I’m done.’ You get months to mentally absorb it. If it’s thrown right there in your lap and it’s like it’s over, that’d be so emotional.”

When he suffered the concussion last summer that made him miss half the season, it seemed like a very real possibility he might not be able to race again — and that the end of his career wouldn’t be on his terms.

Now, as long as he stays healthy for the remainder of the season, Earnhardt will be able to climb out of the car in the way he wants. All the hard work it took for him to come back in the first place has to be more than worth it for him in that regard.

— Oh, so what about his replacement? The logical choice would be Alex Bowman, because he’s already worked with the 88 team and done well there (he almost won Phoenix, remember?). Bowman at least deserves a shot, and future star William Byron wouldn’t be hurt by spending another year in the Xfinity Series anyway.

But at the same time, I’m sure there are MANY drivers outside Hendrick Motorsports who would literally give up their pinkie toe for a chance to drive the 88 car, so perhaps it’s not so obvious.

— On a personal and professional level, I’m really going to miss covering Earnhardt. There’s something about his combination of candor, wit and humility that makes him the best interview in sports (at least that I’ve seen), and you really can’t replace a guy like that.

Dale Jr. is a normal dude trapped in a superstar’s life, and his fans identify with him because he acts and talks like they would if they found themselves in a similar situation.

Over the years, I’ve found Earnhardt to be respectful and genuine and someone who doesn’t try to hide behind corporate speak. There’s nothing fake about him, and people seem to connect with that. There’s a very sincere quality there, which is something you don’t find all that often with people of Earnhardt’s celebrity status.

The people who claimed Earnhardt was popular because of his last name have always missed the point. While the name may have led to his initial opportunity in the sport, he was able to cultivate an ever-growing fan base and keep it over time because of the person he is — not his name.

74 Replies to “Initial thoughts on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s retirement decision”

  1. Say goodbye to NASCAR as anything resembling a national sport.

    Think ratings are bad now? Just wait.

    I know lots and lots of NASCAR fans who long ago checked out on the product at the racetrack, but were only watching to see how Dale Jr. did, just as you note with Gordon’s Rainbow Warriors.

    1. There will probably be an impact, yes, but let’s have a little bit of faith, what do you say? There’s still 28 races to go in his career and here we go forecasting the death of the sport next year.

    2. Dale isn’t going away! Hi is just not driving anymore. He is a team owner with 4 teams and is sure to be a cup owner one day.
      I am in my 60s and am excited to see changes in the sport we know and love. The face of the sport is getting younger and may I say, more interesting all the time.
      Elliott, Blaney, Jones, Suarez, Bowman, Byron to name just a few of the guys who are making their way in to fill the seats of those who are walking away.

      Our sport will remain as long as there are TRUE fans who love the sport and not just one driver.

      1. Very few people tune in every week because they like the owner of a team. The drivers are the stars and main attraction.
        The true fans who loved the sport are pissed off at Brian/NASCAR due to all the changes jammed down our throats that ruined the sport we loved (as well as direct actions and statements that rubbed hardcore, old-school fans the wrong way). Many have only continued to watch out of loyalty to their driver. Their loyalty to NASCAR itself is tepid at best. Don’t be surprised if ratings tank next year. The good news might be that after next season’s ratings, there may be no place to go but up.

        1. I am a true fan of NASCAR and I’m not mad at NASCAR. Is it perfect? No. Was it ever perfect? No. Will I watch once my favorite driVer is gone? Absolutely. Did I expect this to happen soon? Yes, and because if that I started watching young drivers in K&N and ARCA many years ago. Based upon driving skill and attitude, I started following Chase Elliott and hoped he never drove a Ford. Luckily for me he came up to Cup in a Chevy so I didn’t have to choose another driver! He will be my #1 driver next year and I’ll have many more years to enjoy watching him drive before picking my next driver.

          1. Roflmao…I was thinking the same thing Bill. I’m done, 28 more races and that’s it. Nascar keeps changing for the worse. I’ve lost my favorites before…Richmond, Wallace then in November my most favorite person in the Sport, Dale Jr….see ya later Nascar!

          2. Debbie Gets It- She is a nascar fan for all the right reasons. From a FAN of in order 48-20- 22-2-24-21-37-4-6-17-78-88always-31-41-42-1-plus a few more-why limit yourself(?)

      1. I have never rooted for a driver except an Earnhardt so I will definitely not be watching NASCAR. Love you Dale Jr you and your dad made me want to watch NASCAR I’ll follow you the rest of the year. Then no more NASCAR for me.

    3. I totally agree!!! Look at the stands now. They aren’t even half of what they used to be. Just wait until 2018 and it really will be empty! A sad day for the ones that are Jr’s fans. It’s 2001 all over again in a sense.

  2. Jeff needless to say I’ve been reading every article published this morning on Dale Jr’s retirement, but you sir hit this out of the park! You talk about Jr the man, what he has done for the sport ie his impact being relate-able. Kudos. My favorite write up.

  3. It’ll be interesting to see how this affects ratings and attendance and all of that. I’m a Matt Kenseth fan and I don’t follow the sport as rabidly as I once did, though I keep tabs on it mainly because of him. Once he retires, which is coming up fast, will NASCAR have a product I’m still interested in investing my time in? I can’t be the only fan who sees their driver reaching the end of their career, along with dwindling interest in the product NASCAR is putting out, and seeing the opportunity to find something else to do on Sunday afternoons.

  4. I was expecting it but yeah i’m sad now. He’s the only driver I’ve ever cheered for. Now I gotta find a new one. Yes I will still be attending NASCAR racing. I’m in a group. Haha.

  5. Another great job Jeff. Now if those of us who love the sport and rely on it can avoid getting sucked into all of the negative comments. There is so much amazing new talent in the sport…it’s too bad that people can’t see that.

  6. Your last two paragraphs speaks volumes about him. That is what he is all about. He fought back to get in the car, to prove it to himself and to not let anyone down. I can not imagine what has been going thru his head.

    His up periscope and his early morning tweet set the tone.

    Wishing him well.

  7. My son grew up idolizing Jr. and it is a sad day when something we actively share will now gradually fade away. Junior has been an amazing athlete, role model, and man. He will be sorely missed on many levels. He truly is irreplaceable. Really nice article. Thanks for trying to articulate it all. It’s tough to wrap the mind and heart around it all.

  8. I personally cannot wait to see him become a car owner. He has so much behind the scenes knowledge and has the ability to make great things happen for young drivers.

  9. Awesome article. Was an early fan of Sr’s with blue & gold Wrangler car, but knew I had found my driver with Dale Jr. You described him spot on Jeff and it is truly what keeps me loving him.
    I’ll still be a NASCAR fan when Jr retires and I’ll find a new driver to root for, but it won’t be the same, ever. Thanks for 18 awesome years Jr!!

  10. I agree with others, good article. Watch how this announcement will place butts in the seats the remainder of this year so they can have one last opportunity to see Dale before he retires. It won’t be long before he is in the booth, hopefully replacing one or both of the Waltrips. It is time for them to retire as well, from the broadcast booths. As for his replacement, I’m wishing and hoping for Kyle Larson to take over the ride. That would be an awesome opportunity for Larsen, Hendrick and Chevrolet.

    1. I’ll admit it. I’m not a Dale Jr. superfan, but I immediately booked Homestead. I live in Florida, have for 6 years. I only went in 2015 for Jeff, but I don’t want to miss that last points race of his.

      I swore I wouldn’t go back with how terrible the experience was after all the “access” passes I got that weren’t honored and the mile+ walk to the track from the RV parking.

      (Though during booking, they did say there are now shuttles from that lot up to the gates, so let’s hope I don’t have to watch a poor elderly Jeff fan have her family half carry her down the closed four lane road.)

  11. Spot on Jeff! Evolution of the sport. Just like when Gordon started we the fans are seeing the evolution from Smoke, Gordon and Jr to Blaney, Elliot and Larson while Kenseth, Harvick and Newman are working to run. A true fan of racing and good journalism

  12. NASCAR is a strange combination of things, driver personalities, skill, teamwork, mechanical perfection, risk, fueds, and rivalries. With Smoke, Gordon and even Carl leaving the sport, we have seen the impact on NASCAR. There are really only a few drivers left that can really race to win amongst the 2nd tier Cup divers that can run ok but could not consistently win let alone the group of drivers that are used to fill out the field but will most likely finish to 10 let alone win. The cookie cutter personalities that NASCAR seems to produce these days do not attract fans. They do not connect with fans. Jr. Is one of the last of the kind of driver NASCAR needs for success.

    A very good article Jeff. Thanks.

  13. The news of Dale Jr.s retirement is not as much a surprise as a kind of sad relief. After his injury last year and the possibility of him being hurt again, maybe worse this time, my heart jumped into my throat everytime he took a hit of any kind.
    I am glad he is walking away from the sport on his own terms and healthy. His future in the sport as an owner will continue to give NASCAR new life. JUST IMAGINE TEAM OWNERS DALE JR. & TONY STEWART HOLDING A NEWS CONFERENCE????. Best of luck in the future Jr.

  14. Wonderful commentary! Dale Jr. is who he is. And that’s always been more than enough for this fan. Dale yeah!

  15. Jeff you are right without the TV money Nascar would be challenge.I’ve been a fan for decades,this has never happen
    that top 5 drivers would retired on such short notice.

    What is the plan in Charlotte & Daytona to brand the new talent to a younger fanbase ? The replacement should be :Bowman-Byron-Larson or even Edwards?

    Gordon-Smoke on the farewell tour at the Brickyard it was a convention of these fanbase.You are right fans were still going to see them even if the hate all Nascar change in format ,Chase & competition package.

    Kenseth-Harvick-Bowyer & the dominator Jimmie Johnson are the next one to retire.There’s a lot of great drivers in K&N east & West,ARCA,NCWTS & Xfinity.The stand are empty.Nascar it’s time to market them to Nascar Nation.

    JR Nation is 45% of Nascar Nation,their impact is huge.Blaney,Kyle Busch,Logano,Larson,Elliott,Byron,Poole,Keselowski will tomorrow CUP grid.

    i wish all the best to JR,thanks for the memories.

  16. I was a Rusty Wallace fan. After he retired, I found myself watching and attending less and less races each year. Last year the only race I saw was the Daytona 500, and I didnt attend any races. There just werent any drivers that I wanted to follow, and I had put up with boring races for years due to my driver.

    I keep tabs on the sport with Gluck, Jayski and twitter. But Im a casual fan now. And the same will happen with the departure of Jr.

  17. It’ll be good for NASCAR! Back to there’s more than one guy on the track. Yeh too bad for the kids groupies but there are 39 other racers out there who will continue to lay it out there every week. Personally, I think a few other drivers have done much better than him on track and haven’t got the so called “celebrity status” or the payday they deserve. Now if we don’t have to hear about it every single minute, we can get some good racing in this year without all the distraction, I think with this storyline ongoing, fans should open the NASCAR history books and learn more about the racers who raced to really build the sport. I think they’ll find dogs of different , when it comes to what makes it happen!

  18. Great insight and I love you didn’t use stats and the number game or the Earnhardt name. This article was written by someone who knows the person because that is who we need to think about now Dale Earnhardt Jr the person. Are we sad Hell Yeah!!! ❤️❤️

    Happy for Dale and family

  19. I agree with you Jeff I did not watch or go to any racing after Dale jr. Was out last year and I have been watching the stands at races this year. This will hurt Nascar bad I hope Alex Bowman does get the ride he deserves it. But no Jr. Probably no Nascar for me. Tony gone Jeff Gone Carl gone now Jr won’t be the same.

  20. We did know it was coming sooner rather than later, but I’m not sure anyone knew it would be this soon. That being said, it will be a huge loss, but also a huge opportunity for NASCAR. There will likely be more viewers each race now, and NASCAR must capitalize on the predicted influx of viewers. Yes, we should appreciate all that Jr. has done for the sport and enjoy what’s left of his final season, but now is the time we must promote new stars more than ever; and I’m not talking about promoting the Joey Loganos and the Austin Dillons either. Those kind of guys had their chance, and quite frankly they do nothing to move the needle. We need to be promoting younger stars with driving flair and personality. These would include Blaney, Larson, and Elliott. Some may say Erik Jones or Chris Buescher, but no I disagree. While I appreciate the obvious talent of both drivers and assume they are both great people, neither possess the definitive driving style or compelling personality as other young drivers. NASCAR must realize this and promote the stars that will really move the needle. As for Jr’s replacement, it may be more complicated than any of us think right now. Personal preference hopes Bowman gets the seat, but I would not be surprised at all to see a higher profile driver jump ship from a current team to fill the seat.

  21. Another reason, among many, for fans to lose interest. NASCAR has ruined the sport with all the rules and limitations forced on us. These aren’t races any more; there’s no real chance for competition. They’re just ego trips for owners. After being a diehard fan for many years, I watched one race this season and that was enough for me. I’m done unless they go back to actual racing.

  22. The final 2 paragraphs were perfectly summed up and represent the Junior I have grown to admire, as a person first, and as a racer second. Much love and luck in the next phase of his life. Fatherhood?

  23. This is the most thoughtful and sincere response to the announcement that I have read. I have no doubt it will remain in that position at the end of the day. Thank you for capturing the moment and the thoughts about Junior that I have tried in vain to express to people when they ask why I like the guy so much and why I’m such a big fan.

  24. I love be how so many think NASCAR will fall. Earnhardt may have been a hero to many but when it’s relative to winning and championship, it’s not in the pudding. Everyone needs a guy to root for, it’s just too bad your guy is out. That’s how he is period. He’s your driver, he quit! Get over it! Your a dope if you think he cares. It’s about the money. Always has been! You should know, you buy his shirts hats etc. He’s got enough so “Later, I’m out” Can’t blame the guy. He’s got the dough, a hot chick, nice houses, cars and toys. Why should he waste his weekends hanging out at the track driving around in circles? NASCAR will survive! The strongest will always be behind a wheel. It’s in the blood!

  25. Gluck….the last 4 paragraphs are dead on. Dale Jr., although a superstar, remained “one of us”. There is a personal connection between the blue collar fans to Dale Jr. That emotional connection is what is missing from 90% of the drivers today.

    Just think about the hat and Dale Jr. Look at the reach of what Dale did and the ground swell he created. That influence will be so missed, it is incalculable.

    I was never a member of Jr. Nation, but as the years have gone on, I have become much more appreciative of what Jr means to NASCAR, his link to the past, and him influence on the future.

    I hope over the next 28 races, Jr. is able to run well, not get hurt, and then transition to being a hopefully soon….Dad.

  26. Wow!! Great article Jeff, love how it was about DALE the person not just the sport, name , etc. I knew it was coming just not this soon, it made my stomach get in knots! ???? But every time he wrecked this year made it get in knots also. I just wish the best for him & Amy, it’s been so much pressure on him since his dadddy died, I can’t even begain to imagine what he’s went through! Would love to see Jeffery Earnhardt get a shot at it but don’t see that happening???? So I say put Ryan Blaney in it! Although I like the Wood Brothers too! Geez, I can’t even think straight after this news!☮️????

  27. It is time for new blood. It sux but it’s true. This is when Elliott,Larson,Blaney and the Dillon’s should really be coming into their own and building a fan base. YES,NASCAR has declined but there is still plenty of life in the old girl. They just have to continue on the path to returning more to the Southern roots and realize the Yuppies aint stock car fans.
    Goodbye Dale and thanks for the ride. It’s been one helluva roller coaster but I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

  28. Hate to see JR retire. But I know he’s thought long and hard and made the right decision for him and Amy. NASCAR won’t die. Has a lot of talented young drivers coming up. No sport is one person. Great article

  29. Will be fascinating to see how Nascar reacts. Absolutely critical to market the young stars now.
    Nascar will have to capitalize in any way they can over the remainder of the season. Drivers are going to have to become more relatable. Nascar needs more race’s like yesterday’s desperately no matter what track. But do they have the leadership and vision to make the right changes?
    How about a poll question on what people think Nascar should do?

  30. Nice article Jeff and great Facebook live presentation… but I won’t be selecting another favorite driver. I’m 75+ & I’m over it…… however; I will root for quite a few drivers now.

    So sad that the #88 team has only produced one good car so far this year. I listen to Raceview and hear him say what is wrong with car…. then pit stop, followed by, to paraphrase…. Car is not better.

  31. Out of the box idea that I think would work wonders if you could convince Junior and Brian France. If you can get Dale Jr. to liquidate his team assets, make him the director of competition for the Cup series or even president of NASCAR. For too long the relationship between fans and officials hasn’t even been love-hate but just plain old hate. Junior would be a breath of fresh air in there.

    Do I think Junior would do it? Probably not. If not him, then find another popular retired driver who isn’t part of “the system.”

  32. Separate thought. Alex Bowman for 2018 in the #88, and somebody…SOMEBODY has to replace Kasey Kahne. Nothing against Kasey personally, but he hasn’t been performing to the standard of his equipment for years. Maybe William Byron in 2018 or 2019, or Darrell Wallace will defect to Chevy and take a Hendrick ride.

    1. Matt Kenseth may be looking for a ride next year (assuming Eric Jones’ deal with Furniture Row is, in fact, only for this year.

  33. Well, I’m By God done.. I’ve dealt with “Crapcars” idiocy for too long. This is and will be the reason that Crapcar tanks. Been a good run since the 70’s.

  34. As always Jeff, you knocked it out of the park/track! Your words about JR. Ring so true. I have been A loyal Jr. Nation fan since his start and I’m 57 now, will so miss him, however our family is so very excited for not only he and Amy but his entire family as well.
    Uncle Dale will Rein fun and terror on neices and nephew’s and they will love it.
    Dale certainly should have No Regrets and NASCAR will miss his on track driver influence.
    The fans will definitely miss him driving but I do believe he will be at the track and still SEEN and involved.
    A regular guy in a Superstar Situation, WOW, best description ever!
    Dale is so relatable to so many and in today’s society, THAT’S GOOD!
    Thanks Jeff for your coverage and a LIFETIME HUGE THANK YOU to Dale Jr. And his entire family for their commitment to a sport we love.
    Best if luck Dale Jr. & Amy on your new less stressful lives and congratulations on going your way and IN STYLE!!
    Loyal fan’s The Brown Family.

  35. I’ve followed Dale Jr. from his first *Xfinity* race straight through today, and will be hanging in until the last race of the season. After that, all bets are off. NASCAR has changed so much that it is a shell of its former self–enough so that I no longer check the schedule before making plans for a Sunday. Best wishes to Dale and Amy for their future together.

  36. Looks like Charlotte Motor Speedway will have to take even more grandstands down now…they have already removed seats from turn 1 all the way to the exit of turn 4, not sure where else that can take then from…

    I am very happy for Dale Jr to be able to enjoy life on his terms, to enjoy his wife and children that will be coming away from the weekly spotlight…bravo

  37. While it is sad to see Dale Jr. retire, I am happy it is his decision and he leaves healthy. I feel for his fans as they will suffer a deep loss. I know, I suffered as a fan of Neil Bonnett and Davey Allison when they were gone. The difference, he’s here. JR Motorsports needs their support. Kellie and Jr. will continue to be part of NASCAR. Yes, he will be missed, but he’s not gone forever. We are all blessed to have been a part of his career.

  38. HBOT Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Post Concussion Syndrome. The Earnhardt family has entertained the world with extraordinary driving skills, the finest & devoted their lives to doing it. Now it’s time for Dale to heal from all of the combined concussive injuries. HBOT offers healing. Dr Harch has been treated post concussion syndrome since 1989 successfully. We would love to help Dale. He does not need to suffer with headaches, body aches or reduced capacity in any way. We can help him enjoy the rest of his life & retirement. I thank the Earnhardt family for all they gave to the world & the excitement of skilled racing. Amazing.

  39. If any NSACAR fans of Dale’s who r racing enthusiasts that have been in wrecks & r suffering with post concussion syndrome: “Healing is not only possible it’s probable” Dr Harch has been treating PCS & all different types of brain injury since 1989. We hope that someday it will be insurance reimbursable. If you want it now & can’t afford it, read this:

    Recruiting now

    US Congress has funded and authorized a study on Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Traumatic Brain Injury & Post Concussion Syndrome. The study is FREE to anyone who has had mild traumatic brain injury or post concussion syndrome in the last 10 years & fits criteria. Veterans with PTSD and headaches may also qualify because TBI-injured veterans are sometimes under-diagnosed as PTSD. Headaches can sometimes be a marker of TBI. Cara 504 427-5632

    LSU Study.pdf

  40. For those who will lose interest in NASCAR, GOOD. You don’t know fiddly about it. You not old enough to remember The King’s retirement or how that season finished. You didn’t see Richmond as a real short track and Handsome cherry smash the wall in the Dogwood turn. Or remember when they ran Monte Carlo or even Thunderbirds. Dale Sr would smoke the tires all the wsy around Dover for 500 mikes. When you read the history books, then come back n say you give up! I admit Dale Jr is a dpouled rich kid who wants out but thats his legacy. These lightweights come and go. Maybe you read about Ernie Ervsn, Greg Sacks and Dave Marcis! Racers at heart without the luxury of big bucks! Help me out here Jeff, whats the bedt histiry book out there?

  41. Oops! Bad spelling I meant Handsome Harry and spoiled rich kid and Dover was 500 miles or laps but, that didn’t matter till the lightweights came to complain. Do you know who Chris Economki is? How bout T Wayne Robertson? NASCAR is moving with or without you and these do called young guns! If you’ve raced ALL your life, I get it. But if you got less than 30 years experience, you ain’t seen nothing. Many of these race tracks use to be driven with one hand and smoking a cigarette in the other.

  42. I posted this last night on your FB page, Jeff, because your Bristol column made me wonder. Now, today’s announcement, I feel like my questions are ever more omnipresent.

    A repeat:

    Hey Jeff, I wanted your opinion on something and since you are on your own now, you might have a bit o’ time to read it and give me your thoughts. I’ve been watching NASCAR since I was a 9 year old girl, enamored with Jeff (I’m 33 now). My question is this: Do you think NASCAR is causing its own downfall?

    Reason for the question (Pardon the length): Fox is especially bad at this, though NBC does it too – but I’ve been watching the promo packs for the last 2 years or so. They are showing even old model cars, during “beating and banging” days. Your Bristol article sort of nailed it with old/new Bristol, just as the Bristol “bump n run” heavy promo was on. NASCAR is advertising a product that doesn’t exist. When I watched the promos for Daytona, I can’t count the times of rolled cars, and the “big one”. The promos are cutting from at least several years ago. All the Daytona promos I’ve seen focus on the 2014 wreck (I suspect they leave out Austin’s ride at RCR and/or legal requests since our Florida ambulance chaser John Morgan tried to sue them). The only time a RECENT promo is included? When the drivers are doing something they’ve gotten fined/parked for. When Kenseth and Logano had their tiffs, that was in the promo for the next week race, despite the fact that it was A) at a different track and B) the risk for the driver on probation means it’s not happening again.

    I also respect WHY they instituted the “stay in the car” edict, though I don’t agree with it (tale for another time, we all know the story) since I doubt NASCAR pros will jump on hoods. Kurt’s “Kiss My Butt”/”go to the rear” gesture I see every year. But it’s also led to next to no emotion allowed there either, but here is helmet tossing and glove throwing in the promo. That’s verboten.

    Seems like NASCAR is sending mixed messages here, and advertising tracks with old configurations. In the Texas/Kansas/Atlanta promos, they actually end up showing the racing at each other’s tracks because there’s so few “contentious” moments to be had, last year RICKY CRAVEN was in a promo, my 13yo asked who it was (bad mommy). When a potential fan tunes in, they expect what is advertised… and they are getting (oftentimes) boring, cookie cutter tracks with no tension, no drama, not much passing, just laps. Frankly, I’ve been cheering driver tiffs from ANY drivers, because it might be the only excitement of the day and we all need someone to love/hate, right? But NASCAR penalizes that often, or at least, inconsistently. Kyle Busch is now my driver due to my kids after Jeff retired, but while I was dancing and cheering he went after Logano, I also was fairly shocked no one got any punishments, including Joey’s crew who appeared to kick Kyle on the ground, and Kyle himself. I cheered when Jeff went after Burton. No one knows who would even be penalized (ala Marcos Ambrose or JWT/Spencer). I suspect NASCAR didn’t penalize Kyle/Joey/team in the process because without them, the headlines would have been “worst race in NASCAR history today”. The race winner wasn’t in bold that day – it was “WATCH: ALTERNATIVE VIEW OF LOGANO-BUSCH FIGHT” – which, I’m sure you are aware of the source. 😀

    I’m GLAD they didn’t penalize anyone, but I wish they’d stop pretending to penalize ANY out-of-car altercations under the PR “we prefer fists over cars being used as weapons”. Problem solved. Pretty much every sport has “discretion” to fight or outright abilities to fight to get it out of their system. (Ironically, the only hard and fast place you can’t is… MMA fighting, as all hits outside the ring are SEVERELY punished.)

    How is a new fan supposed to keep up with that? Forget all the bizarre rule changes, the random stages, and the freaking never ending 1/10th mm violations, they are showing stuff (like the racing) that doesn’t happen!

    Agree? Thoughts?

  43. Excellent take, Jeff – well done.

    I wasn’t a huge Jr fan until recently when I was able to stop and listen to him… and realize what a regular guy he really is. The sport will certainly miss him – and I hope that the next generation of stars will shine brightly enough to keep Jr’s fans – and new ones – to the sport we all love.

    I will stay with NASCAR – I just love racing too much to pin my devotion to the sport on any one driver. But NASCAR sure needs some help… let’s hope it comes sooner than later.

  44. NHRA is gaining ground. You buy a ticket and you have full access to everything. Now I know that would impossible at a large Nascar event but the experience of attending a race in person is loosing its appeal. Nascar had better find a way to bring the experience back to the fan.

  45. Well NASCAR has dug their own grave because of their insane changes which they refuse to acknowledge. I hope to hell they don’t blame this guy leaving as a sudden a convenient reason for their demise. Many don’t care for Jr. do not root for him and invest in other drivers. Kinda insulting this whole damn NASCAR is around because of an EARNHARDT, been sick of that narrative for years! Insulting for all the drivers who did sacrifice besides SR. and for those drivers that made a notable difference and who’s families also sacrificed. EARNHARDTs this and that..getting tired. Junior has not been enthused about his good fortune in life regarding racing for years, imo. No loss.

  46. We haven’t seen the last of Dale, happy to hear he will still be involved. If any NASCAR fans of Dale’s who r racing enthusiasts that have been in wrecks & r suffering with post concussion syndrome: “Healing is not only possible it’s probable” Dr Harch has been treating PCS & all different types of brain injury since 1989. We hope that someday it will be insurance reimbursable. If you want it now & can’t afford it, read this:

    Recruiting now

    US Congress has funded and authorized a study on Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Traumatic Brain Injury & Post Concussion Syndrome. LSUHSC & Dr Harch. This study is FREE to anyone who has had mild traumatic brain injury or post concussion syndrome in the last 10 years & fits criteria. Veterans with PTSD and headaches may also qualify because TBI-injured veterans are sometimes under-diagnosed as PTSD. Headaches can sometimes be a marker of TBI. We love NASCAR drivers & we love veterans. They live a rough & tough life style, there is treatment for all of those concussions.

  47. I hope the rest of Jr’s races this year go well. I fear he might take risks to end his career on an up note and get involved in an accident that could permanently injure him. He and the other drivers are only one mistake (by themselves or others) from being seriously injured or killed while racing. I think Jr. should have retired last year after his injury and not take additional risks.

  48. I’ve been a diehard Nascar fan for a long,long time. Terry Labonte was my favorite. Then he retired. I had no clue who I wanted to root for so I stayed with the car…the #5…and that was Kyle Busch…by the time he went to the 18, I was hooked. I have always liked a lot of the drivers. Including JR and would love to see him win more even a championship. But I will not stop watching and going to races because JR and a few others retire. I love the sport and enjoy it more with the chase!!! We all knew it was coming..just not this soon. I was thinking about his life now and I understand, being gone all the time can be hard on a marriage. And maybe he wants to be home especially when/if they start a family. My dad was a professional wrestler and gone a lot during my childhood…so I understand!!! Anyway….IMO IF your a fan of the sport…a diehard fan….you’ll pick one of the young guns and go with it. Good luck and Best Wishes,Jr and Amy!!!

Comments are closed.