Dale Earnhardt Jr comes to the race track every week with hope, optimism, and excitement now that he is running competitively week-in and week-out. With everything going well for him, everyone (the fans, the media, and everyone in between) has asked NASCAR's Most Popular Driver this one simple question now more than ever.
"When will you win?"
Coming into this weekend's race at Michigan International Speedway, it has been four years to the day that the 88 car was last in victory lane. Coincidentally enough, that last win came at Michigan (which was where the Cup series was running this weekend) on June 15th, 2008. In the span of four years, we've seen tons of history, new innovations and gadgets, etc since that day.
Despite the 143 race winless drought, he has had several opportunities over the last two years alone to get back to victory lane. He has had chances to win at tracks like Martinsville, Charlotte, Daytona, and even Pocono just last weekend.
Because of the consistency that the #88 team has shown over the course of the 2012 season, Junior's confidence is at an all-time high, and it was only a matter of time before we would see him get back to victory lane.
For Earnhardt Jr, that time has finally come.
After 4 years of working extremely hard and not giving up, the Hendrick Motorsports driver was finally able to close the deal. Dale Earnhardt Jr finally ended his 143 race winless streak by beating Tony Stewart to win the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan. He dominated the race by leading 95 laps. Earnhardt's margin of victory over Smoke was over 5 seconds.
Now that Dale Earnhardt Jr has a win to his credit this season, he is now (in my mind) a true championship contender.
When you take a look at his stats for this season, they are very impressive.
Junior now has 1 win, 12 top-10's, and 6 top-5's. Earnhardt Jr has also completed the most laps out of everyone in the Sprint Cup Series, with 4,648.
By looking over his stats for the 2012 season so far, Junior has been the most consistent driver on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit. We are now starting to get deep into the summer months. History has shown that Earnhardt Jr tends to struggle at this point in the season. However, the Mooresville, NC native has not skipped a beat during this summer stretch.
I believe that the #88 team will be a true championship contender now that he has the ability to win races. People questioned his ability to run for the title without winning races. Not anymore. Even though you have to win races to win a championship, consistency is also part of the equation. To me, he has everything he needs to make a title run.
What are your reactions to Dale Earnhardt Jr ending his 143 race-winless streak? Do you think he is a true contender to win the Sprint Cup title? You can tweet me your thoughts (@butlerb92), or you can leave a comment in the comments section below!