As the disappointments in his final season mount, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has had to constantly re-adjust his goals. After failing to win a race during the regular season and being excluded from the playoffs, his new aim was to just win a race before he hangs up the driving gloves.
As more races come and go without a promising result, Junior still wants to win a race, but his primary focus has been adjusted again.
“There is a concern, I guess, that you could get sort of complacent and go through these races and maybe some of the urgency or importance falls away a little bit because there is no ultimate carrot about there like that championship trophy,” he said via Autosport.
“So I think we will consciously all kind of remind each other as a team to keep pushing hard and to keep working hard. I’m done at the end of the year, but they go on.”
It is a good perspective that shows how much Earnhardt cares about his team. It would be easy for a driver on the way out to give up and put in a lame duck season. But, ultimately, that would hurt the team next year and that helps motivate him.
“That off-season is a few months, but how you end the season definitely affects how you begin the next one,” Earnhardt said. “If you sort of tail off and you don’t put all your effort into that ending you sort of start flat the next year and it takes you a while to get things sorted out.”
It is sad to see a legend resigned to this position, but it shows a lot of awareness and character that Junior is looking our for his team and trying to keep the focus on doing the best they can during the end of this disappointing farewell season.