NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 2012: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Confident At Charlotte

It wasn't how he said it or the even the words he used, but the one thing that was unmistakable as Dale Earnhardt Jr. spoke Thursday in the media center at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the confidence he has in himself, his team and in his car.

Although Earnhardt Jr. made no bold predictions that this was going to be the weekend he finally snapped his nearly four-year winless drought, it was obvious he thought he had as good a chance as he's had in a while to get back to Victory Lane in a actual points-paying NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

"I think we're confident," Earnhardt Jr. said when he spoke with the media. "We're bringing back the same car (from the All-Star Race), so we know what kind of race car we've got. We know what kind of potential we've got, I guess, and we're all kind of expecting to improve on some of the things we did last week.

"We had some things that we learned and we think that we can improve on that and even be better than we were last week."

Earnhardt Jr.'s confidence in himself and his team stems from the fact he enters the Coca-Cola 600 having posted a series-best eight top-10 finishes in 11 starts this season, which has Earnhardt Jr. sitting third overall in points, just 14 points behind leader Greg Biffle.

The confidence Earnhardt Jr. has in his car comes from the knowledge that on Sunday he'll be wheeling the same car he used Saturday in last weekend's All-Star Race, where he drove away with the win in the preliminary Sprint Showdown to advance to the main event, then later won the fourth of five segments.

And if after all those near-misses and close calls over the last four years Earnhardt Jr. is to see his winless streak disappear, that it would happen at Charlotte of places would make it even more meaningful. Charlotte after is the track he considers his home track and it is a place where Earnhardt Jr. has yet to win a points race at, something he really wants to do before his career his done.

"Yeah, it would be awesome to win at Charlotte and give me a trophy from here being that it's close to the house," Earnhardt Jr. said.

Earnhardt Jr. almost scored that win last year in this race as he was leading on the final lap, but with the start/finish line in sight, the fuel tank on the No. 88 car ran dry and Earnhardt Jr. limped home with a seventh-place finish.

Twelve months later and riding high after a strong run last weekend, Earnhardt Jr. appears poised to finish the job.

"You definitely feel like one got away," Earnhardt Jr. said. "When you come close to winning a race like that, you definitely think about what you might have could have done different or 'If only this or if only that.' You don't think about that too much. You can get distracted and not really be thinking about what you're trying to do that moment.

"If the car is good enough and we're good enough and do everything we need to do, we'll be right there with an opportunity to win a race and that's what you have to concentrate on."

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