Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Confessions of a Suddenly Lost DEI Fan

Last Tuesday, Martin Truex Jr., along with Michael Waltrip Racing, announced that the current EGR driver now has plans to drive for the 2-time Daytona 500 winner’s team next season. EGR, as you know, is the result of the Dale Earnhardt, Inc/Ganassi Racing partnership that occurred earlier this year. As far as the other EGR driver, Juan Pablo Montoya, his contract with Ganassi Racing (this did not change when the partnership took place) takes him to at least 2011 with the team. Do you see where I am going here?

So, the question that I pose to you, faithful DEI fans, is this: Who do we cheer for now?

When a racing team is wiped from existence due to economic downturn, the suspicious mixing of 2 prescription drugs, the loss of manufacturer support, not being able to race enough to even come close to the top 35 in owners points (and any other of the countless reasons why teams in 2009 have had to call it quits) — it becomes a sad time for all of those mourning their losses. Sad for DEI fans, especially. With all of the loss that this team has encountered over the past 8 years, it is a wonder that I have stuck around long enough to see it all progress to this. The moment for me is a difficult one, since I have been a DEI fan mainly because of association (yes, a large part to why I am a fan is in part that I have a family member who has worked there for many years). As I have watched this sport change over the years, I have come to realize that it is very tough to be a “true” fan of one specific driver for very long. The reasons will need to be listed, since it could get quite confusing:

Reasons why it is tough to be a “true” fan of one specific driver (for very long):

1. Good today, unpredictable tomorrow – Jeff, Carl, Kasey... Where did you guys go?!
2. Constant change of sponsorship — The days of a steady sponsorship deal are just about numbered (for all of you with the #8 Bud car tattooed on your tush...)
3. Lost in the shuffle of a new number — Poor Clint Bowyer fans, I bet you though he would be carrying your favorite Jack forever! I am sure that 07 CB hat has a nice dust bunny family living on it now...
4. He got married...had a kid...and gained 30lbs — For the ladies out there who were hung-up on their dreamboat of a driver... “He ain’t what he used to be”
5. They’ve gone over to the “dark side” -- Dale Jr fans, need I say more?
6. The mugshot isn’t as cool as the in-car camera — The “Do you know who I am?!” behavior has caused not only embarrassment for the team owner, but for the fans, too. (We can only make so many excuses for your off-track performance...)
7. The Retired or The Lost – Whether you were a Rusty Wallace fan or a Dale Earnhardt fan, you miss cheering their names.
8. Slap Fights – During a race, your favorite driver was spun out by their teammate – after the race, that favorite driver of yours decides to throw a “made you blink” air punch at his teammate – leaving you wondering why you cheered for him in the first place.
9. Team changed manufacturers – For the Chevy lovers…a Toyota just isn’t the same.
10. They just can’t win – Plain and simple.

As I have racked my brain for a full week, I cannot shake the thought that I will follow into a new season of racing, and not have a favorite. Can a fan just watch a race without the expectations of their favorite winning? As I type this, I am remembering the last few years of my life where I have watched (and listened – thanks to TrackPass scanner) every weekend and been disappointed with the outcome of many races…too many. The most interesting and exciting races have been those where some crazy things have happened and have lead to first wins, streak breakers, and championships won. As I look at the list above, I can’t help but think that these are the things that most fans love to see and hear about. It is like reality TV…most people deny that they watch it, but are secretly addicted to it.

If you can stick with “your driver” for a period of time (as every driver has their bad days…and their REALLY bad years), then I commend you – for this sport is full of unexpected turns…regardless if they are always turning the wheel to the left.

So, DEI fans, who will you be cheering for next year? Will you stick with Truex Jr. and follow him to MWR? Fall back on Dale Jr? Or will you be waiting for another young Earnhardt from the Nationwide Series…?



almac377 said...

I feel your pain. As a huge Dale Earnhardt fan, I started to collect Jr. cards also not just because he was Dale's son, but because he was Dale's driver.

I collected some Mikey cards (and still believe Michael could have a lot more wins if he had been given say a Jeff Gordon/Jimmie Johnson opportunity, being put in top 5 equipment from day 1)

Then along came Truex Jr. and I have a huge collection of his cards, just not sure what will happen next year.....I will probably still collect him as I do respect Michael Waltrip (If Dale Sr. had confidence in him, then he must be a good guy)and it will make it easier to MAYBE get a Signature series to door number card of Martin (MAYBE meaning IF Press Pass makes them)

I collected Paul Menard also while he was with DEI, but this year it just doesn't have the same feeling ...not that I have anything against RYR just not my team I do have small collections of Davey Allison, Ernie Irvan and Dale Jarrett, so I am not an RYR "hater"

Well I guess only time will tell as I see my first Truex Jr. NAPA card, sure am gonna miss the Bass Pro Shops with him though.

almac377 said...
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