Daytona 500 2012 Results: Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Performance Is a Positive Sign

Nicholas Goss@@NicholasGoss35Correspondent IFebruary 28, 2012

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Dale Earnhardt Jr. drives the #88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 27, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Dale Earnhardt Jr. barely missed out on winning the Daytona 500 on Monday night, but his strong second-place finish is a positive sign for what should be a fantastic season for one NASCAR's biggest stars.

Earnhardt Jr. was not able to catch Matt Kenseth on the final lap at Daytona after making a strong push toward the leader spot over the final few laps.

Via USA Today:

"We couldn't ever get to Matt," said Earnhardt, whose winless streak narrowly was upped to 130 races. "I kind of waited til the last minute. I thought it was a great race. I want to thank the fans for sticking around on a Monday night and everyone who tuned in at home. Sorry about the delay and everything."

Earnhardt Jr. has had a career often criticized and compared to his father, who was one of the best racers we'll ever see. Despite his winless streak now sitting at 130 races, there are many reasons to be encouraged by his Daytona performance this season.

In a race of great pressure and distractions caused by the delays and weather, Earnhardt Jr. showed great focus and determination to climb up the pack and nearly catch Kenseth on the final lap.

There were so many wrecks and cautions at this year's Daytona races which made the challenge of even finishing the race more difficult than it usually is.

Earnhardt Jr. has gotten off to a great start to the season and there's no doubt this impressive performance at Daytona will give him the confidence he needs to break his winless streak and drive into victory lane in the near future.