Junior doesn't have to change

September, 19, 2007
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Kurt Busch said his real personality would come out when he moved from Roush Racing to Penske Racing two years ago. Brother Kyle recently said his real personality would come out when he announced plans to move from Hendrick Motorsports to Joe Gibbs Racing.

Kasey Kasey said on Tuesday that more of his true personality would shine with his move to Budweiser as his primary sponsor in 2008.

So what changes will we see of Dale Earnhardt Jr. after Wednesday's announcement that he will be sponsored by Mountain Dew, the energy drink Amp and National Guard next season at HMS?


"My personal and personality haven't changed at all," NASCAR's most popular driver said during a televised press conference from Dallas, Texas.

Thank goodness.

It would be a shame to think Earnhardt would lose the individuality that has made him a breath of fresh air in the stuffy side of corporate America that has taken over NASCAR.

It was good to see Earnhardt wearing his shirt tail out during the press conference instead of tucking it in neatly to fit the HMS image of black pants and white shirts.

If only he could convince team owner Rick Hendrick, who would benefit from a loose-fitting look, to do the same.

And did you notice, the shirt was gray, not white?

One of the things fans love about Earnhardt is his honestly and ability to be himself. He doesn't pretend to be somebody he isn't, or try to become somebody he isn't, just to promote a product.

Budweiser didn't have to create an image with Earnhardt as it will have to with Kahne. Earnhardt was a Bud Man long before he began carrying the logo on his hood.

Now he's the Mountain Dew Man.

And Amp Man.

And National Guard Man.

Each fits Earnhardt's personality because they are edgy, just like the driver. Each will benefit from a relationship with the son of the seven-time Cup champion by the same name.

They had to be drooling as Earnhardt sincerely mentioned he has been a big fan of Mountain Dew for a long time, and when he talked about putting Amp to the test that morning after being awakened at 5 a.m.

"And the National Guard also had a relationship with Rick [Hendrick] and that was a great fit, too," Earnhardt said. "I was just at the right place at the right time."

And he didn't have to announce a personality change to be there.

David Newton | email

ESPN Staff Writer



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