Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s previous forays in the Chase for the Sprint Cup have ended with mixed results.
In the first eight editions of the Chase, Junior has made the 10-race playoff just four times, finishing fifth in the inaugural campaign in 2004, fifth in 2006, 12th in 2008 and seventh in 2001.
The other four seasons, he missed the Chase, ultimately finishing 19th (2005), 16th (2007), a career-worst 25th (2009) and 21st (2010).
But 2012 has been a completely different story thus far. Earnhardt not only clinched a spot in the Chase early—two weeks ago at Bristol—but, much like the political campaign for U.S. president that is currently underway, many observers are starting to jump on the Junior bandwagon.
Many of those members of Junior Nation are beginning to predict that their favorite driver will finally live up to all his career expectations and hopes and emerge from the Chase in mid-November as the series champion.
There's no question the road will be rough, as this year's Chase field has the potential to be one of the strongest and toughest we've seen to date.
Some are calling Junior a favorite. Others are calling him just a contender, some are giving him little chance to win it all, while others are saying watch out, he's a potential dark horse to come out on top.
We at Bleacher Report crunched together all the stats, all the different scenarios, the potential opponents in the Chase and came to the conclusion that yes, Dale Jr. is indeed a viable candidate to win the championship this season.
Doing it, of course, will be a whole different story.
Here are the seven reasons we feel Junior could ultimately be this year's Chase favorite. And, of course, we want to hear what YOU think, so please leave a comment once you've read through the following: