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Pedley: Little Help Over Here, Please

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Tuesday, November 24 2009
Crew chief Lance McGrew and his driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Crew chief Lance McGrew and his driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Five things I don’t understand about what happened over the past 10 months in NASCAR:

First. How in the world can Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus continue run bare foot through thousands of miles of mine fields and come out the other side with every hair still in place?

The fast cars, the great decisions, the flawless driving – I can understand all of that. That all comes from talent and preparation and natural abilities. Fine. What I cannot understand is the ability to continually dodge misfortune in a sport in which misfortune is just inches away and traveling at 200 mph.

And do not give me that old cliche that luck is the product of preparation. You can not prepare for David Stremme unexplainably turning left – in the middle of a straightaway.

Second. How on earth can Jack Roush-owned race cars win the first two events in 2009 and then not again until Jamie McMurray grabs an odd victory during the Chase?

The team has five cars, for gosh sakes. In three of those cars sit three of the best drivers to ever slide though a Cup-car window. This team was so good a couple years ago that NASCAR decided it had to enact a rule that said, sorry, four cars per operation and four cars only.

Jack Roush has not suddenly gotten dumb. He has not, to my knowledge, posted any memos on his Corcord campus telling all Roush Fenway workers to to not work as hard and to do lousy jobs.

Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle a combined 0 for 72? How? Why? I’m asking.

Third. Why are very smart people chasing Danica Patrick’s driving services around the country as though she possessed something which would turn their teams into super powers.

OK, I get the money and sponsorship thing. These tough times are forcing a lot of right-thinking people to make goofy decisions. And Danica is likely to bring attention and, hence, dough.

But wouldn’t you think established team owners in NASCAR would also insist that somebody they hire have a resume of some kind. One which says champion on it somewhere or at least multi-time race winner?

I mean, why not just go out and hire Angelina Jolie to drive for you and worry about teaching her what a clutch is later?

Fourth. What has happened to Little E? This is where the folks who hate Dale Earnhardt Jr. say he is a lousy driver, that he was always overrated and that they are not surprised he wins about as often as politicians do what’s best for the country.

Junior can drive a race car. He may not be as good or as intense as his father was, but he can drive a race car. He has two Nationwide championships and has won 18 Sprint Cup races. In 2004, he won six races which was second most in the series to, yep, Jimmie Johnson.

Sorry, you just do not do those things unless you have driving talent.

And now, he is in the best equipment in racing and has trouble finding the finish line, let alone Victory Lane?

Fifth. Why do such lousy things keep happening in Rick Hendrick’s personal life?

He’s been punched out by cancer, he’s had 10 of his family members – including his son and brother – and friends die in a the most horrible way you can imagine. His drivers have been killed and severely injured. His niece is apparently near death with a liver problem.

From virtually all accounts – and from personal interaction – I can tell you this is one decent, caring human being. Yet he keeps getting pummeled by personal tragedies. And no, success in business can not offset that.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Tuesday, November 24 2009


  • Marybeth says:

    “Fourth. What has happened to Little E?
    And now, he is in the best equipment in racing and has trouble finding the finish line, let alone Victory Lane?”
    Jim, since you ask…last spring Nascar Now started reporting that Tony Jr. was Jr.’s cars from the 2007 DEI specs. RH said after the crew chiefs were switched that he was going to “fix” Jr.’s car.
    Nascar Now reported that since the cars Jr. had at Dover the following weekend were still the old T.Jr. chassis and that HMS had sent a truck with 2 of the newer HMS chassis. The cars never made it to Dover. Instead they made a big deal out of the HMS ‘brains’ working on Jr.’s car…the OLD chassis car. Jr. has taken a beating by the media & on blogs, why hasn’t RH manned up and said “no” Jr. is not in the same equipment as the other 3 cars, instead of leaving Jr. hanging off the edge of the cliff alone…? Brian Vickers did not run as well as he had hoped at HMS, and left. Smart man! I hope Jr. is soon out of HMS. Maybe Teresa is ready to sell 75% of DEI by now…? Somebody named Jeff from there said recently that they would welcome Jr. back with open arms. If not DEI…RCR…Gibbs, etc.

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