Dale Jr makes controversial statement about current NASCAR Cup drivers

RICHMOND, VA – APRIL 29: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, stands in the garage during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 29, 2017 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 700041413 ORIG FILE ID: 674822114

Let’s be honest here.

While Dale Earnhardt Jr has been retired for two full seasons now, his words still carry a lot of weight in the sport and fans take notice when the former Cup Series driver says something. Interestingly enough though, the latest words to come out of Jr’s mouth are harsh criticisms about today’s Cup drivers.

Dale Jr spoke to Andy Frye from Forbes in a phone interview, where the former Hendrick Motorsports driver stated that drivers weren’t doing enough to interact with fans. With that being said, however, he decided to highlight defending Cup Series champion as someone who goes out of his way to be visible with the fanbase.

Off the track, I’ve seen (Logano) take more of an active role in engaging with people, on social media and putting himself in places where he more visible with fans”, Jr said during the interview,” which I love.  A lot of drivers don’t seek out those opportunities. I’m just seeing do more than most drivers, but I think he is taking his role as champion very seriously. And I think he’s appreciative of the sport. Obviously, when you are out there racing, trying to win, you’re doing it for you. And when you win a championship it makes you feel like you’re an asset to the sport. But he’s doing a lot of things that are going to help NASCAR as a sport, not just to help Joey Logano, and I appreciate that about him.

Although Jr’s statement is a glowing endorsement for Joey Logano and a testament to everything he does for the sport, it is also kind of controversial given how vocal fans are about their dislike of Logano. Beyond that, Jr’s words aren’t exactly a glowing endorsement of the rest of the Cup Series field, who include fan favorites like Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, and Jimmie Johnson.

Unfortunately for NASCAR, they are already going through one of the most brutal transitions of the sports existence and are still struggling to bring in fans. If nothing else, this is yet another sign of the sport’s decline if only one driver is actively taking a role in making things better.

On top of that NASCAR has also seen the exit of several series favorites, including Dale Jr, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Danica Patrick, Carl Edwards, and Jamie McMurray, who have all retired in the last decade.

With that in mind, NASCAR needs solutions to this problem and part of that should be taking what Logano is doing and start to make it the norm. They also need to do what several other drivers have suggested and change the way fans experience a NASCAR race.

One idea on how to do that was mentioned in a recent interview with Cup Series driver, Ty Dillon, who claimed that NASCAR needs to let fans move around and have different entertainment decks with different activities. That way, fans can view the race from different all kinds of different angles and also will have other things to do.

In the end, whether NASCAR heads this warning from Jr or not remains to be seen, but one would hope that the sport would take the words seriously and try to react in a way that improves the experience for fans. In fact, pleasing fans should be a top priority for NASCAR moving forward if they want to even think about surviving and thriving in the next decade.

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