Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Power Ranking the Top 5 Tracks Where Jr. Has a Chance to Win
It has been nearly four years since Dale Earnhardt Jr. won a points race, leaving some to wonder if there is a track this driver can win on.
The winless streak continues to grow, reaching a total of 140 races since his last win in June of 2008 at Michigan International Speedway.
Detractors will insist he lacks the talent to win that members of Junior Nation know he has. This season is his best chance yet with Hendrick Motorsports to close the deal in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
The stars have begun to align with Earnhardt's commitment to his team, the guidance of Steve Letarte, and the team's ability to improve a car during the race and fast cars.
The 2012 season found Junior runner-up at Daytona and Richmond. He has four top-five and eight top-10 finishes heading to the Coca-Cola 600.
Heading to Darlington, Earnhardt had put together a string of six top-10 finishes. The Bojangles' Southern 500 finish of 17th knocked him from second in the standings to third, 14 markers out of the lead.
Junior did not need the fan vote for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. He drove his No. 88 to a win in the preliminary Showdown Race. Earnhardt also won the final 20-lap segment.
His stout performance failed to count for more than a good show during the non-points extravaganza at Charlotte.
With the season nearing the mid-point of the schedule that determines who makes the Chase, we will take a look at the top five tracks where Earnhardt has the best chance to break his winless streak.
5. Martinsville Speedway
Dale Earnhardt Jr. likes to have to drive a car, to get up on the wheel and not be concerned with the aero- package on the car.
The .526-mile track with the paper clip shape and high curbing on the inside is a track Earnhardt has fun racing on.
He does a decent job at Martinsville where he was second in the spring race during 2011, seventh in the fall race that year and third during the spring race this year.
Look for Junior to have his game face on when the Cup drivers return for the fall race that is part of the Chase.
The driver of the No. 88 will be a sure contender for the win, especially if he remains strong in the points.
4. Michigan International Speedway
The last NASCAR Sprint Cup win for Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 140 races ago at Michigan International Speedway.
His best finish in the last two seasons was seventh in the first race of 2010 at the two-mile banked oval.
The track at MIS has a new surface that will be very fast with a lot of grip. The race is short and usually lacks for caution conditions and opportunities for restarts.
The No. 88 team may have a plan to get a really good qualifying position, and should that happen, look for Junior to be in contention for the Victory Lane celebration once again.
3. Chicagoland Speedway
Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the 2005 edition of the Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway. It was not with the COT and as a driver for Dale Earnhardt Inc.
Times were different back then, but they are also different this season with the driver of the No. 88 getting a handle on his car that is well prepared by his Hendrick Motorsports team.
The race at Chicagoland this fall will be the first race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Drivers will be out to show what they have as Chase contenders on the 1.5-mile track.
Last year, Junior finished third in this race. If he remains a title contender, there is little doubt that he won't be out to make a winning statement at Chicagoland Speedway.
2. Daytona International Speedway
The name Earnhardt and Daytona just kind of go together like bread and butter. The son of the "Intimidator," who drives the No. 88 Chevrolet, has found a lot of success at Daytona International.
Of the 18 career wins Earnhardt has, seven have come on superspeedways. In 2010, he finished second in the Daytona 500 and fourth in the July race. He was second in the 2012 "Great American Race."
Junior is always expected to run well on the high banks and his chance to win may be better at the Coke Zero 400 than Talladega later in the year.
1. Charlotte Motor Speedway
It didn't count for points, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. got to taste victory with the winning of the Sprint Showdown Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The win got him into the All-Star Race where he won a 20-lap segment and secured the fifth place slot in the finale.
Last year, Earnhardt was leading the race on the last lap of the last turn in the Coca-Cola 600 only to run out of fuel and watch Kevin Harvick pass him for a win.
The driver of the No. 88 for Hendrick Motorsports has five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes at CMS. His team has improved their overall performance, but perhaps most on the intermediate tracks.
Junior may be out to exact revenge for this race that turned sour for him last year. It is a long race, and should he not qualify well, there is plenty of time to get the car right.
The Coca-Cola 600 may be the best place for Earnhardt to put an end to his winless streak and get his first points win at the track.