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FANS REACT: Is Dale Earnhardt Jr Underrated or Overrated?

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Yesterday, we at the Daily Downforce posed a question about NASCAR’s biggest name, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Is he an overrated driver, an underrated driver, or a properly rated driver. While we took a stab at it, we also turned it over to the fans to see what they thought, and they gave their own thoughts on the topic.

What did the fans have to say? And, what do their points of view have to say about Earnhardt Jr.’s impact on the sport.

In the Stands: Overrated

I don’t know if anyone is calling him the “greatest ever.” His name did bring forth expectations, whether fair or not. However, Steve does qualify how great of an ambassador that Earnhardt Jr. is for the sport.

Connor Cummins puts Earnhardt Jr. in the very, very good category, but not necessarily the “great” category.

Boogity 4113 says that Earnhardt Jr. is overrated as a driver, but as an advocate for the sport, he has done a lot of good.

Breeze Butler says that Earnhardt Jr. was overrated because he never contended for a Championship. In fairness to Butler, Earnhardt Jr. only finished as high as third in the points, with only four top-5 points finishes in 19 seasons.

In the Stands: Underrated

Janet Evans mentions how Earnhardt Jr. had to carry on the legacy of his dad. The pressure of that given what he accomplished means that he is underrated in her eyes.

Jason simply calls him underrated

Maxi says perfectly rated as a driver, but as a contributor underrated. Honest question, does NASCAR have a better advocate than Dale Earnhardt Jr?

Carson Biggerstaff says Earnhardt Jr. is underrated given all that he had to deal with during his career. From concussions, to the death of his father, to the the points systems.

In the Stands: Properly Rated

Suarezfan99 believes Earnhardt Jr. is properly rated just as he is.

Exit 261 says that Dale Earnhardt Jr. did everything right, and is properly rated because of that.

Ian says he is properly rated. He compares him to Carl Edwards, but Jr. is just a more popular figure.

William Davis says that Earnhardt Jr. is properly rated. Davis feels it is unfair to compare Earnhardt Jr. to drivers like Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, but the stats speak for themselves.

Final Thoughts: The Challenges Earnhardt Jr. had to face

Andre Clark talks about the challenge Dale Jr. faced during his career after his dad passed away. The immense pressure that he felt following that maybe set expectations too high for him. Did that have an impact on how his performance was, or on the fans’ perception of that performance?

Many people who felt Earnhardt Jr. was overrated looked at his lack of championships, and the weight of expectation that was upon him. The logic for many goes that if a driver is immensely popular, then he must necessarily be one of, if not the, best driver on the circuit. Honestly, that is objectively a difficult ask.

Imagine being in your early 20s, just trying to make a name for yourself, and your father, the one who got you into the sport, passes away. Now you have inherited that entire fanbase, and your expectation is to win races and carry on that massive legacy. That is an almost impossible task for a veteran driver, let along a young gun.

However, many also looked at the positive that Dale Earnhardt Jr. has given to the sport. Many look at his impact as a contributor. He is NASCAR’s greatest ambassador, and he continues to use his massive clout to put the sport in a positive light.

The impact he is making on the sport today is positive. Regardless of whether or not he met either his personal or fan expectations on the race track. That being said, it does not excuse his time as a driver for some people.

Some people look at his up-and-down seasons as a driver and see him purely as overrated as a driver. In fairness, he went four full seasons without a win from June of 2008 until June of 2012 in the best equipment on the track at the time.

All of these realities can be objectively true. Is he overrated as a driver? That’s not for me to say, and it’s probably not something that can be objectively answered.

His impact on the sport cannot be denied, however. That impact is continuing to promote and help the sport to this very day. He place in the sport is unique, and it’s okay if his biggest contributions are not what he did on the race track.

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Joshua Lipowski

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