Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s recent victory is unquestionably a breath of fresh air for many within NASCAR. For four years, ‘Junior Nation” has been waiting for a win, and now it has one. The victory, however, was no fluke.
Currently, second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings, Earnhardt Jr. is enjoying perhaps the best first half to the season of his Sprint Cup career. He has had strong runs throughout the season, but has come up short of a win.
He has 12 top ten finishes in 15 races and has completed 100 percent of all laps in the Sprint Cup Series this season, making him the only driver to do so.
Now, the pressure to break a winless streak is off Junior’s back he will need to focus on winning more races and vying to his first NASCAR Sprint Cup title..
Does one win make him a contender for a championship? No, but his performance so far this season does. Earnhardt Jr. has run well on multiple types of tracks and has built up a steady stream of momentum. It’s much easier to get on a roll to start the Chase for the Championship following multiple weeks of success than a team, which has struggled.
Just ask Tony Stewart. A year ago on Labor Day Weekend, he had his best finish since early in the season, finishing third in the AdvoCare 500. That finish seemed to have sparked Stewart to a torrid pace over the final 10 races of the season, which ended with him hoisting the championship trophy at season’s end.
Is it time to crown Earnhardt Jr. the Sprint Cup champion? No, not yet. But with his recent success, it certainly makes the No. 88 car one worth watching as a championship contender.