It's over. It's finally over.
After four years, 143 races and victories by 26 other drivers in the time since, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Nearly four years to the day of his last win, Earnhardt Jr. ended the streak at the same track where he won his last race, a fuel-mileage victory in the 2008 Father's Day event at Michigan International Speedway.
This time, it was no fluke. Earnhardt Jr. dominated the race and had clearly the best car in the Quicken Loans 400 despite concerns that a tire change would throw his team for a loop. But thanks to a smart call by crew chief Steve Letarte to tighten up the car early in the race, Earnhardt Jr. drove his Batman-themed car to victory.
The win was just Earnhardt Jr.'s second in the last six years, so it's not as if a single victory will suddenly erase all those frustrating seasons.
But perhaps more than ever before in his career, Earnhardt Jr. has been building his team for a championship run. Instead of taking chances for wins, Earnhardt Jr. has preferred to go for points that would help his spot in the Chase. If the opportunity for a win came, they'd take it – but not at the expense of the overall season.
Today, that opportunity came in a big way. Earnhardt Jr. smoked the field and was unquestioned as the dominant car.
While a win is great, it doesn't change the No. 88 team's end goal: The Sprint Cup Series championship. It'll help off the track more than anything, as questions about "The Streak" will now cease.
And like his Hendrick Motorsports team when it was searching for the organization's 200th win, this victory might open the floodgates for more.
In the meantime, Earnhardt Jr. and his Junior Nation fans can sit back and finally celebrate. The proverbial monkey is off the No. 88 team's back, and the caped crusader has risen – all the way to Victory Lane.