Friday, October 14, 2011

Why Junior's New Deal Wasn't a Big Deal At All (

(Originally appeared on Sept. 2, 2011 at

Is it me or did the news that Dale Earnhardt Jr. had reached agreement on a five-year contract extension with Hendrick Motorsports just not have a lot of pizzazz and buzz attached to it?

Frankly, you would think that re-signing NASCAR's most popular driver the last eight years running would have resulted in front page newspaper headlines and lead off every nightly TV sportscast from Charlotte to Calgary.

Instead, the news that Junior will remain with Hendrick Motorsports and behind the wheel of the No. 88 Chevrolet was markedly low-key, almost having a ho-hum, so what else is new flavor to it.

Has Earnhardt's legacy, reputation, persona and popularity really come to this? What should have been one of the biggest news stories in the sport in months wound up being a five-second news blip in most instances: "In NASCAR today, Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced that he has re-signed with Hendrick Motorsports for another five years, through the 2017 season."

That's it, a little news byte – and that was all.

So what happens now? Even though Earnhardt still had one more season left on his original five-year deal with team owner Rick Hendrick, he's now locked in for a total of six more years.

Which leaves us with three pressing questions.

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