Published on June 16th, 2008 | by Michael J Smith2
Earnhardt Jr.’s Win Comes At Just The Right Time
After the news of a $225 million gender and racial discrimination lawsuit with a side of sexual harassment broke last week, NASCAR tried to address the publicity nightmare swiftly and fairly. It suspended two Nationwide officials named in the suit. It also attempted some minor damage control. Lastly, NASCAR reminded drivers of how good they have it.
The weekend’s races at Michigan International Speedway and Kentucky Speedway could not come fast enough. NASCAR, more than anyone, wanted to return to normalcy. And, what a weekend of racing it was.
First, Eric Darnell and Johnny Benson gave the fans exactly what they were looking for with a photo finish in the Cool City Customs 200. Then, rookie sensation Joey Logano, AKA “Sliced Bread,” won the Nationwide race, becomming the youngest driver to win in the series, taking that honor from Casey Atwood.
Then, on Sunday, NASCAR’s prodigal son returned to victory lane. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Lifelock 400, ending his 76-race winless streak. Not only that, he did it in the most thrilling fashion, stretching fuel farther than anyone else could, at times, under caution, turning the engine off and coasting.
Add to that the fact that he won on Father’s Day, a sort of unspoken homage to his father’s memory. The story could not have been much better if it was scripted. When NASCAR needed a win, Dale Jr. stepped it up and provided it.
We shouldn’t be surprised, though. When NASCAR needs big wins, usually Dale Jr. is there. The first race following Sept. 11, 2001, Dale Jr. won. The first race back at Daytona International Speedway following his father’s death, Dale Jr. won. And, on Sunday, when NASCAR needed a story that would top the lawsuit, Dale Jr. won.