Friday, July 2, 2010

What a Night for Earnhardt Nation

It took more than luck for Dale Earnhardt Jr. to take the No. 3 to Victory Lane at Daytona tonight.

It took a crack pit stop by the No. 3 crew.

It took a risky call by Tony Eury Jr. to stay out, while teams further back pitted for tires. 

And it took a driver who was gonna win come hell or highwater.

In short, it took heart.

Whether you believe the impetus behind the revived Wrangler No. 3 paint scheme was entirely fan-centered or not is a moot point.

Nobody who watched Tony Eury Jr. tear up post race could doubt that there was a lot more riding on this night than millions of dollars in merchandise sales.

"We lost everything here," said Eury. "To come back with that number and do this, it means everything."

And nobody who heard Junior's effusive post-race interview could doubt that this win was deeply personal for him as well. 

"I was so worried I wasn't gonna win," Junior said. "And anything but a win ..."

Who can blame him for being worried?

Dale Jr. has suffered through a two-year stretch of bad luck, self doubt and some pretty hateful critcism.  Judging by the way his races sometimes go, to hope that he might actually take the No. 3 back to Victory Lane at Daytona was tantamount to tempting fate.

Add the enormous pressure for Junior to live up to the number on that car, and the odds that something could go wrong increase exponentially.

But sometimes fate smiles on the star-crossed.  The planets in their courses align.  And the folks with heart win the day.

Congrats Earnhardt nation.  What a night.

Photo info: Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Richard Childress celebrate after Earnhard took the checkers in the No. 3 Wrangler Chevy at Daytona International Speedway.

1 comment:

  1. “Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be.” -- Karen Ravn

    The faith of the man in the car and those that made this happen enabled the dreams of the nation and allowed them to believe. Believe it or not there was little doubt in the chat rooms or the message boards of tonights outcome. Perhaps it is true that the prayers of the many can push 3600 lbs of car just a little faster and just a little straighter. Congratulations Tony Jr., Dale Jr, Kelley, R.C., and Teresa. It was much deserved.