Dale Jr Gets Parked Again While Making Progress

Tom ThomasonCorrespondent IOctober 12, 2009

FONTANA, CA - OCTOBER 09:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, stands in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pepsi 500 at Auto Club Speedway on October 9, 2009 in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The sprint cup race at Fontana turned out like most expected. Jimmie Johnson won again. Yawn. But, you can't blame Jimmie Johnson for being the Michael Jordon of Nascar. All he does is win.

But, it did look like Nascar's most popular driver might finally catch a break this week. Wrong! He ran up front for most of the day after starting back at 37th. He gave good feedback to crew-chief Lance Mcgrew and seemed to control his emotions.

But it ended the same way as many other times this year- Disappointing. The encouraging thing is that he ran good enough to stay in the top ten most of the day. The discouraging part is that he got turned by someone Else's mistake again.

Earnhardt was bumped from behind by Elliot Sadler and was sent sideways across the race track. The wreck caused an eight car pileup that parked pretty much all of Richard Petty motorsports. Sadly for Earnhardt, there were only six laps left in the race.

There was so much debris that NASCAR called a red-flag period of nearly 22 minutes, in which the remaining cars were stopped while the mess was cleaned up. And then of course Jimmie Johnson put his superman cape on and flew to the victory-Yaaaawn.

The accident frustrated Earnhardt so badly that he couldn't compose himself enough for a post-accident interview. And who can hardly blame him? He has been running with the leaders on a regular basis since Lance Mcgrew came on-board but, he can't seem to escape some mysterious bad luck that seems to be following him around like a Pit lizard looking for an autograph.

Earnhardt has been wrecked by other drivers more then once this season. He has also been killed by engine failures and pitcrew mistakes. You can almost hear the waryness in Jr's voice every week as he gets closer to the end of the race.

Its almost like he is expecting something bad to happen every week now. Naturally it has been a feeding frenzy for the Jr haters and smirking journalist who think he is over-rated. Maybe he is but, you cannot deny the almost movie-like bad luck.

One thing is for sure. If Dale Earnhardt Jr ever gets it together again, it will make for a great Hollywood screenplay. If you really want to know how Nascar can boost its ratings. Just wait until the crowned prince of Nascar finally wins a championship. If that day does come, there will be a Nascar resurgence like this country has never seen.