So, when is the most popular driver in NASCAR going to take control of his career and start producing some numbers? I've been asking myself that question for some time and it becoming obvious that day might never come.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is by far one of the most popular drivers in the sports today, with legions of fans hoping in vain week in and week out for him to drive his way to the front. Unfortunately, as of late, the driver hasn't been able to do much.
When he made the move to Hendrick Motorsports, I thought it was a great decision. He would be able to go on with his career without being in the direct shadow of his late father. He'll be able to go and make a career. So far that hasn't worked out.
Since 2006, Dale Jr. has averaged a 17th place finish and his best finish in the Spring Cup standings is third place way back in 2003. Plus, his average finish in the cup chase is 14th and he currently sits in 16th place, 87 points behind 12th place.
So what's the problem?
At first, I believed it to be his choice of crew chiefs, but that has been remedied. Then I thought it might have been the change in teams. Junior has always been a loose kind of a guy and that's precisely the reason he appealed to me so much. Now he would be with Hendrick Motorsports. And if you look at their drivers -- not exactly the picture of laid back.
So what does that leave us with?
Simply, that leaves us with Dale Jr. and that seriously surprises me. I've racked my brain trying to find that cause and the only thing I see is something is missing where he is. He doesn't seem to have the fire he once had, nor does he seem willing to make the moves he needs to get the wins.
For years we saw his father move people out of his way, but I don't think Little E is built that way. Every now and then you'll see him give a nudge to someone, but for the most part he's a clean racer and if you look at the standing, they're not the ones at the top.
Kevin Harvick is the current points leader, while Kyle Busch is second. Not saying their bad dudes, but not the kind of guy I want behind me at a drive-thru if you know what I mean.
But the most striking thing is a comment the fan favorite made before this weekend's race at Michigan. When a reporter asked him about the winless streak (two years and 71 races), he acted as if it has never crossed his mind.
"I didn't even think about it until y'all asked Mark (Martin) about it," he said Friday. "It's a long time, but what are you going to do? I'll be around for a long enough time, hopefully to get a few more wins."
That's not a comment I would expect from one of the sport's preeminent drivers. Earnhardt should be flaming mad that he hasn't won and doing everything in his power to make it happen. Something is out of place and it needs to figured out quickly.
He did indicated that the team was making strides, but those strides haven't amounted to a win.
Earnhardt needs to get in gear and produce a season worthy of the young man's talent. In the meantime, how about that U.S. soccer team?