Users: Junior showed courage in 2001

We asked our users whether Dale Earnhardt Jr. would be a strong challenger for the championship in 2002. Our readers shared their thoughts:

Dale Earnhardt Jr., will succeed further in 2002. I bet he will win four or five races and even finish in the top-five in the points. I wish Earnhardt Jr. all the luck. If anyone, he deserves all the luck and success he gets!

Carrie Lynch
Greenwood, W.V.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., has what it takes, but we'll have to see how it shapes up when the season starts. There are many great drivers in Winston Cup, but I have no doubt Junior can win the championship. It just depends on how the chips fall.

Little Rock, Ark.

What an incredible young man! I personally couldn't concentrate when the season began without Dale Earnhardt, how Dale Earnhardt Jr., managed is beyond words. Knowing the type of family he is from, there was no doubt he would come on strong in 2001 -- proving the great skill and determination behind the man. I predict an awesome year for Junior, and I'll be one of those fans cheering him on, either from the stands in Daytona or in front of my TV. Good luck, Junior.

Wendy K.
Norwalk, Conn.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., is such an outstanding young man! He has overcome such horrible adversity with aplumb and savvy! I have no doubt his 2002 season will be terrific. He has learned so much and has grown into himself, that I feel he is a stronger person and will be a shining example of what America is all about -- perserverance and a desire to be the best!

Courtney Crewe
Alameda, Calif.

At first, I doubted his Winston Cup talent. The second half of 2000 was dissapointing and caused me to believe he may not be capable of being a threat week in and week out. In Busch, he was in the best equipment and had less competition -- not to lessen his achievements there. After his dad's accident, I took more notice to him. I was forced to choose another driver to cheer for. Seeing him transform into this mature young man and fierce competitor opened my eyes to a potential eight-time champion. That statement was not made to compare him to his father. They are two very different people, but they both shared the same desire behind the wheel. Having followed only a portion of Earnhardt Sr.'s career, I was unable to know where his passion came from. Since his death I have read about him. He raced every race never forgetting his father. In 2002, Dale Jr. will get in his car, strap on his seatbelt, put his helmet on and glove up. When he starts his motor he will be "driven," the same as his father was. He will win races, compete for the championship and suceed as a champion. How do I know this? He is an Earnhardt. They are born with natural determination.

Sabrina McQuaig
Waycross, Ga.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a great season, and he handled everything handed to him with maturity and poise. His victory at Daytona in July will forever be one of the great moments of the 2001 season. Junior will be a force to be reckoned with for many years to come.

Brooke Frederickson
Mt. Airy, Md.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has the tools to put the Earnhardt name into the record books again. He is the Earnhardt of this century -- sorry, Kerry. He fits the profile of the young NASCAR driver. He has the zest for life his dad had and will appeal to the young fans. I think as long as there is NASCAR the name Earnhardt will be a major part of it.

J.D. Bawlsac
Point Pleasant, N.J.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s season ran the gamut of emotional highs and lows. He deserves much credit for going back out there to race again. Obviously, his team doesn't need to make any adjustments since its performance was exceptional for the most part. I think before his father's passing, Junior was racing "for" his dad -- to make him proud and to gain his respect. He reached a point somewhere during the season when he began to race for himself -- because he wanted it. He will definitely make his mark on the sport in the years to come.

B.J. Gadola
Poconos Pa.

I think Dale Earnhardt Jr. showed this year that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. He did a temendous amount of maturing is a short space of time, and he handled an indescribably horrible situation like a true champ. I expect him to start piling up the championships very soon and look forward to cheering him on every week for many years to come.

Tricia Dewey
Suisun City, Calif.

After the second race of the season, I thought Dale Earnhardt Jr. was done -- stick a fork in him. But he came back with a hard charge, just like a chip off the old block, reminding me of his father. Watching him at Telledaga was like watching his father. Who says Dale Earnhardt is gone.

Tony Hager
Pittsburgh, Pa.