Junior leaving DEI: I was trying to think of an appropriate analogy among the other major sports, so non-NASCAR fans might appreciate the hugeness of this situation.
Here's the criteria: (1) Most popular athlete in the sport. (2) Leaving a team synonymous with his identity (if not his name). (3) Becoming a free agent and definitively moving on to a new team.
Is it overstatement to say it would be like Michael Jordan leaving the Bulls in 1996, like Cal Ripken leaving the Orioles in 1991 or like Brett Favre leaving the Packers in 1997? I suppose the closest thing is Wayne Gretzky leaving the Oilers for Los Angeles.
But given that those players left team sports – and that NASCAR is inherently a sport of individual stars – this is arguably even bigger than if the situation involved those names listed above.
Again: You don't have to be a NASCAR fan to understand how big this is.
(Can you believe it: A late-afternoon post about NASCAR?)