|Dale Earnhardt Jr. drives his 2011 Camaro off the line with GM Canada President |
Kevin Williams as passenger at the GM plant in Oshawa, Canada.
His boss, team owner Rick Hendrick of Hendrick Motorsports, bought the first two of the highly anticipated 2011 cars. Hendrick and Earnhardt Jr. are lifelong fans of Chevy and the Camaro; plus they race Chevys on the track year-round, so it made sense that they would be invited to the event.
The question really is, why Dale Jr.? Sure, Junior Nation will step up and tell me why. I understand their reason and logic and it all makes sense, but why not Jimmie Johnson? Why wasn’t he invited to be the first to drive the Camaro off the line? Isn’t he the one who’s won five consecutive Cup championships in a Chevy?
Or better yet, why not also invite Jimmie Johnson? Wouldn’t the five-time champ and the eight-time Most Popular Driver driving a car off the line together be good for marketing?
Dale Jr. hasn’t won a race in two years, not to mention that he hasn’t won a Cup championship. So why does he get all the recognition? He did win eight consecutive Most Popular Driver award from the fan vote, but he still needs to win a race in a Chevy. Jimmie Johnson can win races, but he needs to start winning fans and Most Popular Awards; it’s odd that the five-time champ hasn’t won over the fan base as of yet.
I spoke with a co-worker today, who is not a NASCAR fan and not a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan, but was able to answer subjectively when I asked her, jokingly, “Why did Dale Jr. get invited to drive the first 2011 Camaro and not me?”
Her response, “Because Dale Sr. is not your father.”
My eyes perked up and I realized this could be a serious conversation. “Do you really think that’s why?” I asked.
“Yes,” she went on to explain that Dale is very popular around Charlotte and that “when he died it was a very sad time around here.” She continued to say that she truly believes that Dale Jr. is popular and loved because of his dad and his legacy.
I believe that does play a role, but I also believe that Dale Jr. has a strong following. His fans are loyal and committed, and when a big-deal corporate company like GM launches a gorgeous car, they want a Camaro fan to drive one of the first cars. That’s probably the second reason: it was probably a personal decision because Dale Jr. loves Camaros. He was quoted as saying Monday when he spoke at the ceremony, “Chevrolet has been a great partner on and off the track, and I’m very happy to be here on this special day. While I still enjoy my 1972 Camaro, I can’t wait to take home one of these awesome new convertibles.”
I asked Mike Davis, Dale Jr.’s public relations representative, on Twitter why Dale Jr. and not JJ. He responded, “Chevy uses all its drivers in different ways. This has been on our calendar for 6 months.”
So at least now I have my question answered.
All opinions expressed in this post are that of the writer and not of the site. To find out more about the day’s event, check out the article on GM’s site.