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Defending Dale Jr’s Fans

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Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR

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I’m not writing this in defense of Dale Earnhardt Jr’s winless streak. The truth is his performance has been disappointing and he should be winning races. However, the truth isn’t that he should be winning as many championships as his daddy. Just because he has the same name doesn’t mean he should be held to his father’s ridiculous standard. How come Kyle Petty, Michael Waltrip, Kenny Wallace, and others were never expected to be dominate the sport the way their siblings or parents did?

But again Dale Jr. should at least be winning races. While this season has gone a whole lot better than almost all of the last 3 years have, he still should have a win or two under his belt. He doesn’t and he has to answer for that.

Now, on to his fans. If you’re not a fan of Dale Jr it seems you find “Junior Nation” to be totally insane. And you couldn’t be more wrong. Before I explain why I’ll have to remind everyone of why he’s the sport’s most popular driver.

Dale Earnhardt Jr reminds many of his fans of his father, but it doesn’t end there. Junior is one of the few remaining drivers raised in the south, that talks like them, that acts like them, that reminds them of them. The other big names in the sport are from California (Johnson, Gordon, Harvick) Indiana (Stewart), Las Vegas (Busch brothers), or Missouri (Edwards). None of those guys grew up in an area that was passionate for the sport. Dale Jr did. So, that’s why the fans gravitate towards him. No matter how many different states, regions, and even countries NASCAR travels to, its a southern sport. Thus, the biggest fans are going to cheer for one of them. Their only other choices are Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, David Ragan, Mark Martin, and Brian Vickers.

Now on to why Junior fans gets so defensive, passionate, upset, emotional, crazy each week. Because the one guy they cheer for NEVER wins. If you watched your favorite team play each week and they didn’t win for more than three years you would go nuts too. In NASCAR more than half of the stands each week goes home mad. There’s nothing different psychologically about these people than the rest of society. EVERYONE gets mad when they consistently don’t get their way. Dale Jr. fans haven’t gotten their way for a long, long time.

While it might be fun to blindly throw out criticisms of Jr, compare him to his father, and say that his fans are crazy its an ignorant way of thinking. Instead keep rooting for your guy, and that he keeps Junior’s winless streak alive.

Taylor Zarzour

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