shafnutz05 wrote:It's just nice to see Earnhardt (knock on wood) back in the fight. Yeah, I would have loved to see him win that race, but to see him fighting for a win is something I haven't seen in a long time. I think he's happy, and gaining confidence.
Kind of like the difference between a hard-earned 2nd (yesterday) when they had been near the front much of the day, and the 2010 Daytona race where they weren't really in it until the series of late cautions. I'm thinking it's Richmond. This team is building toward Richmond.
Qualifying has to get better, though. 24.5 average start isn't helpful, and his markedly worse than his career average of 16.3. Dad was 12.9 career, though the last three seasons were all 20+. Though earlier years were somewhat mitigated back when there was 2nd round qualifying, and a chance to improve a deep (30s) run up to 26 if you could. Neither manage poles often - Jr has 10 in 405 starts, and Sr only had 22 in 676. Sr's last pole was at Watkins Glen, broken collarbone and all, in 1996. Might have won that race if the 7 of Geoff Bodine hadn't short-pitted and gotten a caution, ended up 6th leading the most laps. Works out to 4 poles for Osterlund, 1 for Bud Moore, and 17 for Childress, and won from the pole but 3 times, all for RCR. Jr has no wins from the pole, and best finish as polesitter was a 2nd at Pocono in 2007 for DEI when Kurt Busch dominated the race, and the 8 led only 10 laps or so. Jr breaks down as 7 poles for DEI and 3 for HMS. Have to think that now that Letarte and Earnhardt are on the same page in-race, that they will get better in qualifying.
I always hated HMS in general going back to the mid-90s, but NASCAR has a way of having shifting hates and loyalties. I.e. someone else comes around that you dislike more than the one you hadn't liked for many years. Probably that chain includes Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and now sits on Kyle Busch. Guys you once hated now become guys you don't mind when they won because some more hated driver didn't win. Can point to when my opinion turned on Waltrip, back when Steve Park was hurt and DW filled in for the DEI #1 Pennzoil team, and near won at Pocono. Think that was 1998. The turn on Gordon partially was due to the 48, but the rest softened when Jr came to HMS. In other words, in order for the 88 to do well, had to be prepared for the 24 to do so as well. Now, it's all a matter of lesser evils. Gordon winning at Phoenix was better than Kyle Busch. Edwards, still half mad at him for Atlanta 2004 but that softens over time. A similar thing can be said for Vickers at the Fall 2006 Talladega race when he wrecked the 48 and the 8 on the last lap...
Among the drivers that I'd like to see get a win this year, so long as not at the expense of the 88 or 29:
Ambrose really blew it at Sonoma last year. Race was his for the taking and stalled uphill during a caution. I wonder if the new 9 team can get him competitive at the road courses - probably his only shot. Some others seemed to be coming, but fell off quite a bit at Martinsville. This new points system seems to have lots of drivers going up or down by 4 spots or more in the points. 29/88 were both +4, 39 was -4, etc.