It was a simple quote after the first day of testing the new 2013 car at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Dale Earnhardt Jr was trying to be honest, trying to give his opinion of the new car. That's when he said it. Those words that will make his 2013 season his most important season of his career.
"I thought the COT was just frustrating for me. I had good runs and good races in it. I had races where the car drove well and was comfortable, but I never really connected with that car from the very beginning. Just personally I didn’t like the car. I didn’t really appreciate it for what it was," Earnhardt said.
There it was. The words that JR Nation and his fans have been waiting for. The answer for all his struggles at Hendrick Motorsports. The answer as to why Dale Earnhardt Jr went from so good to so bad so quickly. The answer on how someone who was once on top of the sport could fall to the bottom so quickly and the answer to a lot of people's questions. The Car of Tomorrow. Dale Earnhardt Jr never could quite get his arms around it and it affected the way he drove immensely.
Then another quote came.
"I like it already leaps and bounds beyond the COT or the old car we ran. This car really gives me a lot of sensations that are similar to the old car that we ran four years ago or however long ago it was," Earnhardt said.
There! The solution to all the problems. Now Dale Earnhardt Jr can be competitive again. The car is like the car that was ran before the COT, the car Earnhardt has so much success in. The problem has been destroyed and the solution is here. Dale Earnhardt Jr is going to win again.
Now it back to reality. The quotes that Earnhardt made were not bad quotes, but he unknowingly gave a whole bunch of race fans hope for the 2013 season. He gave fans something to talk about and something to look forward to.
If Dale Earnhardt Jr comes out and proves that the COT was the root of his problems at Hendrick, and he wins a bunch of races and competes again, then it will prove a huge success for Earnhardt, Jr Nation, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR and everyone around. It will make his comment valid, end scrutiny and end a thought that a lot of people have as to whether Dale Earnhardt Jr still has what it takes to win a championship in the Cup Series.
If he struggles again than the comment about the COT will go as a myth and prove that maybe there was some other thing making Dale Earnhardt Jr struggle or maybe prove the fact that he may not have what it takes to win a championship. It will prove that he may no longer be one of the top drivers on the circuit.
Don't blame his team either if he struggles in 2013. This past weekend at Daytona International Speedway Earnhardt gave his team high marks and said that the time is now for he and his team to win a championship.
"With the way we ran last year — getting a real sense that we were starting to compete at that level as a team that had the opportunity to win the championship — that felt really good. It got really exciting. I think we have an opportunity. Our time is now," Earnhardt said.
Earnhardt has put a lot of pressure on himself in the 2013 season and he if he wins he looks like a genius. It will end all of his naysayers and prove that it was a car that was the problem not that Dale Earnhardt Jr couldn't drive. If he struggles it will make people wonder if at 38, he can still win a championship in NASCAR's elite series.
2013 is definitely his most important season of his career.
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