There was an earthquake in the most popular American sport today. The MSM mostly ignores NASCAR, but each weekend hundreds-of-thousands (yes, that’s right) of Americans gather in speedways around the USA to watch this exciting home-grown racing sport.
Today, the two biggest names in NASCAR today officially bonded. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. announced he’s joining Hendrick Motorsports for the 2008 NASCAR season. Rick Hendrick and Junior’s late father were close friends, and Junior grew up with Hendrick’s son, Ricky, who was killed in a plane crash in 2004. But there’s more to Junior’s decision than just old family bonds.
“I wanted to find…the team that was right for me as a person and where I could compete for championships,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “As I sit here today, I could say with complete honesty that I have found and accomplished that goal.
“We talked with many teams, but one stood out above the rest and it became apparent to me the man I wanted to drive for. I’ve known him since childhood. He competes with integrity, and most importantly, he wins races.”
With that, Earnhardt Jr. introduced Rick Hendrick, whose drivers have amassed six championships and 159 race victories since 1984. This year, Hendrick’s four drivers have won 10 of 14 points races, with Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson winning four each and Casey Mears and Kyle Busch each winning once.
Hendrick and Earnhardt are winning names for NASCAR. Not only in race wins, but in marketing. Alone, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. brings in 30% of all revenue from NASCAR-related marketing items. That is astounding.
Of course the big question for Charlotte race fans, and fans of Junior is this: “How can we root for Junior when we still want to boo at Jimmie Johnson & Jeff Gordon?”
We will find out next season.