Published Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010 | 3:34 p.m.
Updated Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010 | 4:05 p.m.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans across the nation are in a world of hurt every time they hit the couch to watch a Sprint Cup race. Seeing the son of the great Dale Earnhardt struggle with trying to find his way to victory lane is like watching someone in high heels trying to scale the walls of the Grand Canyon.
Maybe the expectations of Junior Nation are just too large. It is quite unfair to expect Dale Jr. to be his father in every way. But the beginning of Dale Jr.’s career seemed promising and his move to the top racing organization in Sprint Cup gave fans hope that his struggles would soon be over.
That hasn’t happened.
So what will make the driver of the No. 88 car competitive? Former crew chief and team owner Ray Evernham recently had a number of poignant suggestions for Jr. “I don’t see improvement until the communication gets better,” Evernham said this week in an appearance at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Evernham firmly believes that Dale Jr. could turn his performance around if he and his crew chief stopped bickering over the radio during the races and started searching for a way to communicate that includes less emotion and more direct discussion. “When you’re arguing, you’re not being productive,” Evernham said.
After reading all of Evernham’s observations, one thought kept popping into my head. Maybe Evernham is the man who should be Dale Jr.’s crew chief. I know there are NASCAR fans who don’t believe Dale Jr. has the talent to be a winner again, let alone a champion. But Evernham’s experience with molding a young Jeff Gordon, and his track record as one of the most successful crew chiefs in the sport would make him the perfect person to reshape the No. 88 team and motivate Dale Jr. to reach his true potential.
The big question is, would Evernham be interested in the job?