Even though it had been a week since the fiery crash at Sonoma, the look on Dale, Jr.'s face clearly revealed he was still in pain Sunday when he climbed into his bright red #8 cup car at New Hampshire International Speedway. A racer is a racer and it was not highly unusual for Junior to be driving the American Le Mans Series Chevrolet Corvette C5-R at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California during NASCAR's week off.But sometimes things happen. And this time the Corvette backed into the wall, broke the fuel cell, splattered gasoline and caused an enormous eruption. Burns on Junior's legs and neck were the result of the bright flames viewed around the world via television.
Within a few days it was determined that Dale, Jr. should not run a full race at Loudon the following Sunday. Standing in the wings was young Martin Truex, Jr. who drives Earnhardt's #8 Busch car every week. And not only that, Truex had tested the #8 cup car at NHIS a few weeks before.
The drama was set at Loudon as all cameras and eyes focused on the tall handsome Dale Earnhardt, Jr. gingerly stepping into his car. With the command that all NASCAR fans love, "Gentlemen Start Your Engines", Dale melted into the 43 car pack. Truex had qualified the #8 car on the inside of the second row. But, because of the driver change Earnhardt had to make his way to the rear by the time the green flag dropped.
For all Earnhardt fans it was an anxious sixty-one laps before the first caution came out. Junior could be seen unbuckling his belts as his crew prepared to help exit him from the car. To the fans eyes everything appeared to go smoothly. It was also obvious that the kind of pain that Dale, Jr. said he had never felt before was, to some extent, still there. Junior situated himself in a more comfortable position over the pit wall to watch the rest of the race. Truex quickly hopped into the car and sped away. It took another pit stop for tires but the transition was successful and the race could be completed.
It doesn't matter if you are a racecar driver, a truck driver, attorney or secretary, there will be very painful situations quickly arise before you. There will be days and maybe even months and years when your fear will be that you have steered away from your goals in life.
But, just as Martin Truex, Jr. was available to fill in until Earnhardt healed a little more, God will come to your rescue too. It may hurt to sit back and watch someone continue for a short while with your dreams and goals. But, also, like Junior was wise to call on his friend and driver Martin Truex, Jr., you must allow God to make any changes he deems necessary for you.
Lessons will be learned. Dale, Jr. says he will never again drive without all of his fire-resistant clothes. But, he loves to race and race again he will do. Perhaps soon right into the NEXTEL Cup Championship.
You, too, can proceed, in God's time and way, to fulfill your lifelong dreams and goals.
Melva Cooper, Copyright 2004
Used with permission.