D’Hondt: The Emperor Has No Clothes

NASCAR fans are notoriously brutal on drivers they don’t like. Just ask Jeff Gordon. Some fans have been no less brutal on Dale Earnhardt Jr., a driver who is starting to engender equal parts love and loathing. And while fans are expected to criticize, it’s another thing entirely for a member of the fraternity to do so.

Eddie D’Hondt is a member of the fraternity. Involved at the sport’s highest level since the mid-1990s, he has been GM of  high-profile outfits like Robert Yates Racing and Evernham Motorsports, among others. In other words, he’s on the inside of the tent, and, as everyone knows, you don’t piss where you live. Somebody forgot to tell Eddie.

In a column at FOXSports.com, he fairly well calls out Jr. for everything except the banking crisis. After rising to the defense of Jr.’s crew chief, whom many in the blogosphere say needs to get gone and fast, D’Hondt just roasts Earnhardt. While the entire item undresses the driver, this paragraph is as good a distillation as any:

Truth is, as a driver, at this level of competition, your guy isn’t as good as you think he is and in 2009, he’s making mental mistakes he shouldn’t be if he wants to compete and be seen as an upper echelon driver at this level. Yes, given the right day in the right circumstance, Dale Jr. can have a very good day and he has. At Superspeedways, it’s hard to not pick him to have a great day. But overall, his talent level is challenged when looking at the entire schedule. Yes, he sells T-shirts and he’s cool – but I don’t think he’s got the talent you all think he does and I don’t think he works as hard as he needs to beat his competition either.

 Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?