The Frontstretch: In Some Cases, The Apple Does Roll Far From the Tree by Jeff Meyer -- Thursday April 7, 2011

Go to site navigation Go to article

In Some Cases, The Apple Does Roll Far From the Tree

Voices From The Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Thursday April 7, 2011

 

We all know the old saying: “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” But this last weekend at Martinsville, stock car racing fans were given a rare glimpse of an apparent exception to that rule.

Think back over the family history of NASCAR. You’ve got Lee and Richard Petty; Ned and Dale Jarrett; Coo Coo and Sterling Marlin, just to name a few, all father and son Cup stars in their own right. They each left their own legacy on the sport, yet with the son, you pretty much had the same driving style and ethic of the father. Not only on the track, but off the track as well.

This principle not only applies to the tree/apple relationship, but also two apples falling from the same tree. Both apples are generally going to be in the same vicinity, right? Consider Darrell and Mikey Waltrip as an example. Mikey never was the driver that Darrell was, but both have that gift of gab we all love (sarcasm alert!) so much. Or how about Terry and Bobby Labonte, both Champions and generally all around good guys on and off the track. There’s Ward and Jeff Burton; again, with the exception of the speech thing that, according to Jeff, is the result of Ward’s bedroom being on the south end of the house, both were/are talented and respected drivers.

Heck, this theory even applies with Kurt and Kyle Busch. Never in my life had I heard so many people in one place “boo” a driver like I did Kurt Busch… until little brother Kyle came along.

Given a perfect opportunity to steal away a much-needed win, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. played it conservative at a track where most would have been aggressive… Martinsville.

Of course, the list above is not all inclusive, but when it comes to comparing the apple and the tree, two names are glaringly absent and that is none other than Dale Sr. and Dale Jr. No last name needed!

Now I understand that the death of his father was a tragic and terrible time for Dale Jr. and I’m not going to deny that it took unimaginable intestinal fortitude (that’s “guts” for my readers who ain’t used to me using big, ten dollar words) for him to climb back into that car, but gee… we all had such high expectations! He WAS an Earnhardt, after all. Not only just “an Earnhardt,” but Dale Jr.! He had already shown he knew how to win and even to this day, while I have always said he was a bit overrated as a driver, there is no denying that Dale Jr. is the sport’s most popular and recognizable face.

So what happened?

Here we are, ten years after Dale Sr.’s death. Dale Jr. is now in what is more than likely the best equipment he will ever be in during his entire career… and he came in second!?? At Martinsville?? With THAT close of a finish?? What gives?

Don’t get me wrong; on the one hand, I sort of applaud what he did, or in this case didn’t do, but in all honesty my blood was really pumping when I saw him get back to Kevin Harvick’s bumper last Sunday afternoon. I mean, be honest, we ALL expected it… the classic “chrome horn” for the win!! And not only did we all expect it, we all (even ironically, the replacement team of the father) would have “forgiven” Dale Jr. for doing it. It was Martinsville. That’s how it is done there. And while we are being honest with ourselves, we all must admit, whether you’re a Dale Jr. fan or not, we were all disappointed he didn’t do it. For there is no doubt in my mind that, had Dale Sr. been the one in the No. 88 last Sunday, Kevin Harvick would not have won two in a row.

But I bet we’re not the only ones shaking our heads. Somewhere, high above, there is a mustached, loving father, while still proud of his son’s efforts, who wishes he could take the young man aside, put his arm around him and say…”Son, that ain’t what I taught you!”

Stay off the wall, (and please note that Kyle Busch was at no time “hated” during the composure of this article!)

Jeff Meyer

Contact Jeff Meyer

NASCAR NEWS, RIGHT TO YOUR INBOXAND IT’S FREE.
The Frontstretch Newsletter, back in 2014 gives you more of the daily news, commentary, and racing features from your favorite writers you know and love. Don’t waste another minute – click here to sign up now. We’re here to make sure you stay informed … so make sure you jump on for the ride!

Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…
FREE NEWSLETTER! CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP

 

©2000 - 2008 Jeff Meyer and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

Keeping it REAL
04/07/2011 02:36 AM
permalink

Jeff – seriously, you cannot think of a better article? How many people have written about Jr “choking” this week? I still have yet to see how losing to a clearly faster car (see Jr putting it sideways in the corner and falling back as the flags flew) is reason to hang your head in shame? Just because it was close you cannot assume he could have gotten more out of it or somehow “didn’t want it enough”.

But perhaps the most nagging part of these endless articles we are seeing on this subject is that everyone seems to think Jr should have punted Harvick and drove away. I just don’t get that logic. I have said it many times this week and will say it again – I was a loyal Sr fan but never liked that element of his game. Thought it is selling his talent short, basically saying I don’t have enough talent to pass you clean so I’m going to knock you out of the way. Anybody can do that, that doesn’t impress me. Yet everybody seems to have wanted Jr to do that. Can you imagine all the articles talking about how he doesn’t have the talent to win clean if the knocked Harvick out of the way??

Tis same author has also complimented Mark Martin for driving so clean. Double standards. Jr, whether he meets anybody’s expectations or not, is a decent person with a lot of integrity and sportsmanship. For that I applaud him – wins or no wins. Just think there is a right and wrong way to win. Jr didn’t win wrong, which to me is worse than running a hard fought second place.

Bad Wolf
04/07/2011 06:31 AM
permalink

“I was a loyal Sr fan but never liked that element of his game. Thought it is selling his talent short, basically saying I don’t have enough talent to pass you clean so I’m going to knock you out of the way. Anybody can do that, that doesn’t impress me.”

I have to throw the BS flag on that, you could not have been a Sr. fan with your attitude. 90% of the time Earnhardt would move you out of the way with a subtle talent I have yet to see in any other driver. If you were in a slower car and would not get out of the way the other 10% would come into play.

From all of your rantings here I picture you hopping on the rising Nascar Bandwagon in the late ’90s and going with Dale Sr. because he was the hot ticket at the time. No, I take that back, you’re just saying you were a big Sr. fan now because it fits your meme, but you jumped on the Rainbow Warrior bandwagon as it was in lift off and you are now a Jimmie Johnson fan until the next hot ticket comes along.

If you don’t like the old school rough and tumble Nascar I suggest you go hang out on some other “Fanboy” site and revel in your official fandom.

Ellen
04/07/2011 09:57 AM
permalink

Maybe that “mustached loving father” high above is standing there more proud of his son than he’s ever been before – proud that his son is true to himself, comfortable with who he is, being his own man. What more could any parent want for their child?

Keeping it REAL
04/07/2011 10:02 AM
permalink

BadWolf – I started watching NASCAR full time in ’85 and was a diehard by ’86. I saw Matt’s amazing Tim Richmond and saw Sr during some of his roughest years. I just still fail to see how knocking somebody out of the way is a display of great talent. Hell, I can do that, but I’m no great driver. It’s a punk move, basically admits you cannot otherwise pass them.

BTW, don’t think I’m a Sr fan? Ask me a question about him. I have rooms decorated in #3 memorabilia going back to ORIGINAL Wrangler stuff since I was a fan in those days, long before the Goodwrench days. I have always thought Gordon was/is a pansy. I loved Sr’s attitude – he was about toughness and about being self-made. However that doesn’t mean he should just knock people around. I am just still failing to see how driving through somebody isn’t a punk move. It is the easy way out. Is that the way you lead your career? I don’t, and I wouldn’t. I like to sleep well at night knowing there are not countless people keeping score on my head. Why do that when you have the talent to not? Just makes no sense.

FYI – there is a difference between being a rogue and being a pretty boy. I am not a JG or JJ fan, likely will never be. They are too pansy. But still not a fan of people knocking other people out of the way for the win. Guess we prefer different things. You should go watch a demolition derby. More your style.

The Mad Man
04/07/2011 10:26 AM
permalink

Jeff, it’s sort of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. Had Jr applied the chrome horn to Harvick, his fans would’ve enjoyed it and NASCAR would’ve hyped it as the return of Dale Sr’s living re-incarnation or his ghost guiding Jr’s hand or some such nonsense.

By not doing it, once again folks question his ability to drive and his dedication to the sport even though I think it was something of a classy move I’d seen out of Ned Jarrett, Rex White, and others from the old days.

At the end of the day, he’s got to live with himself and his choices, just like the rest of us do.

Keeping it REAL
04/07/2011 11:32 AM
permalink

Susan – ya know I love ya, but I beg to differ on Jr moving Kyle. Watch the replay. Jr’s nose was there and Kyle came down on it. The media is really playing that whole thing the wrong way, for some much needed attention I’m sure. Turn off the volume and watch. Kyle simply turned down on Jr and Jr stood his ground. That’s all it was. He would not have moved Kyle out of the way.

But the rest of your comments I agree with. He’s nearly 40 and hasn’t figured out what he wants to be yet. I hope for his sake that he finds what he’s missing in life and gets it together. He’s a head case. Good guy, but a serious head case.

pepper
04/07/2011 11:36 AM
permalink

Susan, Dale Jr doesn’t want to be an arrogant bully like his father. As a matter of fact, Dale Sr’s greatest legacy is the fact that he left a son to drive with respect for other drivers. It is said that the only certain things in life are death and taxes. There is another one. As we sow, so shall we reap. In Feb of 2001, Sr reaped what he had sown for years. Dale Jr has far more fans than his father ever did. Sr was soundly booed when he was introduced, Jr is soundly cheered. There will always be people like you who want drivers to wreck each other. You can get your fill of that by attending a demolition derby. Go and enjoy. When you watch a Nascar race enjoy the skill instead of the wrecking.

Jeff, I think you are dead wrong. I think the father is bursting with pride that his son has proven more of a man than he ever was. Any bully can wreck another driver. A man knows life is about more than winning a race by wrecking a car. I was a devout fan of Sr for his entire career (yes I am old) yet hated the times he bullied other drivers. I can honestly say I have more respect for his son than I did for him.

Keeping it REAL
04/07/2011 12:36 PM
permalink

I have to agree with pepper. I respected Sr’s talent, had few equals, but never liked when he felt he had to drive through people. I thought he was better than that. Watch his interviews after fall Bristol ’99 and Daytona when he flipped Rusty. He knew he was wrong and a thug for doing it.

I have a lot of respect for Jr as a person. He may not have the talent his father had, but seriously folks – how many do have or did have that level of talent? But as a person, which is what will matter most for the vast majority of his life, he’s a solid person with integrity, decency, and dignity.

One last comment – I don’t get that people are saying all this bad stuff about his interview after the race?? If he was overjoyed and bouncing around I’d be a heck of a lot more worried. That’d tell me he was more excited about finishing second and being in the hunt than he was disappointed he didn’t win. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised he was as down as he was. Sounds twisted, I know, but what I mean is that for somebody who has been that out of it that long to be that disappointed tells me he wants it more than people think. That’s a good thing. However, he’s not willing to do it the way some of you suggest he should, and i agree with his decision. Again, he didn’t knock Kyle out of the way – rewatch it with sound off, his nose was there and Kyle turned down on him. His approach was consistent and he got all he could out of that car (see the sideways corners).

Lighten up people – just because he was close doesn’t mean he, or anybody else, could have held off Harvick without resorting to rogue tactics which surely would have bitten him in the arse countless times going forward. Then you’d all be knocking him for getting wrecked and wrecking and not making the chase. You know it’s true ;-). I just think it’s interesting how so many of you are dissing him for being down yet would CLEARLY be bashing him for wrecking his way to a win had he done that. You people are in interesting study in contradictions (further example – most of you praise Mark Martin for driving with the same clean style Jr uses but bash Jr for not wanting it enough). Interesting..

wcfan
04/07/2011 01:10 PM
permalink

I was a Dale Sr. fan and wish we would have had the In-Car Camara Technoogy back in his day that we have today to see how many times he actually did touch the cars in front of him.

Yes Dale did move many a driver in his day, but I do not believe he touched all of those drivers. Some yes. All no. Many of those drivers were so busy looking in their mirror/ worrying about Dale, that THEY MADE MISTAKES.

Dale took credit for alot of this because it made him rich. And helped grow THE INTIMIDATOR persona.

24Crazy
04/07/2011 01:29 PM
permalink

There is a BIG difference in Moving a car out of your way and Wrecking a car to win. Move it properly no one crashes—unless the movee can’t hold on to it.

Overra88ted
04/07/2011 02:57 PM
permalink

Dale Jr. said after the race “he thought he was meant to win the race” Earth to Dale Jr.; You CHOKED! Try driving with some Balls like Danica Patrick does. What’s Dale Jr. want to wind a race? Another PITY PASS? Oh, I forgot, Na$craps Most Popular Loser already gets that for the Sprint All-Star race. A race that is supposed to be for Winnersa only.

Jeff Meyer FS staff
04/07/2011 05:44 PM
permalink

Couple of things…

To Keeping it REAL: First off, love the name, however if you are a fan of Dave Chappelle, you will know that sometimes, ‘Keeping it real’ can go horribly wrong!! LOL secondly, I notified the editors on Sunday evening as to the subject of my article…aint my fault they choose to run my column on Thursdays.

And to the rest…
Please note the following paragraphs of my article..

“Don’t get me wrong; on the one hand, I sort of applaud what he did, or in this case didn’t do, but in all honesty my blood was really pumping when I saw him get back to Kevin Harvick’s bumper last Sunday afternoon. I mean, be honest, we ALL expected it… the classic “chrome horn” for the win!! And not only did we all expect it, we all (even ironically, the replacement team of the father) would have “forgiven” Dale Jr. for doing it. It was Martinsville. That’s how it is done there. And while we are being honest with ourselves, we all must admit, whether you’re a Dale Jr. fan or not, we were all disappointed he didn’t do it. For there is no doubt in my mind that, had Dale Sr. been the one in the No. 88 last Sunday, Kevin Harvick would not have won two in a row.

But I bet we’re not the only ones shaking our heads. Somewhere, high above, there is a mustached, loving father, while still proud of his son’s efforts, who wishes he could take the young man aside, put his arm around him and say…”Son, that ain’t what I taught you!”

I never said Jr. choked, should have punted Harvick or anything of the sort. I simply compared the father to the son and said we all EXPECTED to see it.

Please read carefully and don’t get in an all fire hurry to take what I wrote out of context!!!

 

Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

Voices From The Cheap Seats: The Tale Of Two Tires
BSNews! Bruton’s Plans Extend Beyond Bristol’s Track
Top Ten Reasons Fans Failed To Show Up At Bristol Sunday
BSNews! NASCAR CEO Given "Special" Award Amidst Lavish Fanfare
Fan Coun-ci-What? Just What Is It That NASCAR Wants To Study?

Want to know more about Jeff Meyer or view his complete article archives? Then hop on over to his archive and bio page.