Dale Earnhardt Jr. Falls Short Of Living Up to The Legend

Brent FarleyContributor IJune 2, 2009

DOVER, DE - MAY 31:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, stands on the grid prior to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 31, 2009 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

For some fathers, having their son follow in their footsteps is honorable. For others, they hope their child finds a different course in life. Maybe for Dale Earnhardt, Jr., finding a different course would have been the better of the two choices.

Dale "The Intimidator" Earnhardt is a legend. The day he died on the track in Daytona, he left some big shoes that needed to be filled. And everyone became a fan of the No. 3 car.

Soon, Earnhardt Jr. became the most popular driver in NASCAR. He has attained a level only Kyle Busch can dream about. And the jealousy rages because Earnhardt Jr. has done little on the track to deserve such stardom!

Earnhardt Jr. struggled to find an identity with his father's company. Only those on the inside would know the conversations between he and Theresa Earnhardt that led him to leaving the team his father built to join Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson at Hendrick Motorsports. 

One thing was for sure—Earnhardt Jr. was not having a successful time behind the wheel of the No. 8 car.

As last year played out with his new team, Earnhardt Jr. and his crew chief found little change, except the color and number on the car. And as 2009 has started, he has continued to struggle. And other drivers are taking notice.

In years past, speaking out against the most popular driver was unthinkable. Things are changing, at least in the boldness of the driving community. 

When drivers spoke trash about Earnhardt, Sr., it was about his success on the track and the way he pushed someone out of the way to reach the checkered flag. Drivers hated Earnhardt, Sr., and they made it known. 

Drivers today have it out for Earnhardt Jr., but not because of his success. Rather, his lack of success. And they are now beginning to voice their unhappiness. 

Earnahrdt Jr. has tried to filled the shoes his daddy left behind. Unfortunately for him, there will only be one Intimidator behind the wheel.