Whether you are a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan, like I am, or one of the many who can’t stand him, one thing remains consistent, we all tune in to see if he will break his winless streak that now spans some three and a half years and 131 races and counting. In fact, it was Father’s Day back in June of 2008 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. last saw the checkered flag first.
But, despite all the bad, there has been plenty of good as of late. With the recent good comes five reasons in particular that will likely lead to 2012 being the year that Dale Jr. finally breaks the winless streak, even though the new season has seen two races come and go without Dale Earnhardt Jr. back in victory lane.
Reason #1: Steve Letarte
Steve Letarte has been a top notch crew chief since helping Jeff Gordon find victory lane many times. Letarte took over for Dale Jr. in 2011 and turned Dale Earnhardt Jr. from a joke to a legitimate contender week in and week out with a seventh place finish in the points to show for the effort. With Letarte running the show, victory is likely forthcoming.
Reason #2: Close Already
I cite two races in particular that saw Dale Earnhardt Jr. almost snap the winless streak. Last year, Dale Jr. was winning the Coca Cola 600 when he ran out of gas on the last lap. Then, this year in the 2012 season opener, he finished second in the Daytona 500 and if he was pushing in second place instead of third on the last lap he might have won the whole thing.
Reason #3: Hendrick Motorsports
As most NASCAR fans know, Dale Earnhardt Jr. races for Hendrick Motorsports. Even though he only has one win with Hendrick since joining them in 2008, the team itself has 199 overall wins in Sprint Cup competition. That shows their prominence as a top-tier team and I’m sure Dale Jr. would love to be the driver to get that 200th win for team owner Rick Hendrick.
Reason #4: Determination
Although Dale Earnhardt Jr. had seemed to lack quite a bit of determination before last season, he has nevertheless seemed to have gotten his grove back. Steve Letarte has been able to light a spark within Dale Jr. that hasn’t been there in some time. Combine that with many stating that he is an overrated driver and only has a ride because of his name and I’m sure there’s nothing he would like better than to silence his critics.
Reason #5: Daytona and Talladega
Of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 18 total wins in the Sprint Cup Series, seven have come at the superspeedway tracks of Daytona and Talladega. With two upcoming races at Talladega and one more at Daytona later in July, odds are that if Dale Jr. breaks the winless streak in 2012, he’ll do it at one of these two tracks.
All Hope is Not Lost
Even though there are just as many Dale Earnhardt Jr. haters are there are fans, his story in NASCAR will probably not end with a winless streak that was never broken. This winless streak will likely end in 2012 and if his recent success is any precursor to the future then the winless streak will end sooner rather than later.
Jimmy Collins has been a loyal fan of NASCAR since he was a child attending races watching Dale Earnhardt run the famous number 3. He still attends numerous races each season and enjoys writing about NASCAR, particularly in regards to Dale Earnhardt as well as Dale Earnhardt Jr.
More from this contributor:
Top Five Reasons Tony Stewart Won’t Repeat as Sprint Cup Champion in 2012
Top Five Reasons Dale Earnhardt Jr. Isn’t Overrated
Top Five Reasons Kyle Busch Won’t Win the Sprint Cup in 2012