Dale Earnhardt Jr. has carried the weight of expectations for many years. His inability to win races consistently and contend for a title has caused some to doubt he can, but all that may change in 2013.
The 2012 season saw the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team, led by Steve Letarte, step up its game. Junior broke his 143-race winless streak and made the Chase.
Though performance improved, it is still far from the goals this team hopes to reach. It intends to win multiple races, and Earnhardt nearly did this past season.
He led with the most top-10 finishes much of the preseason.
Many things have changed in the past year for this driver, who tends to be more of an introvert. Letarte helped his wheelman open up to more public adventures, which boosted his confidence and fun level.
Earnhardt has also become much more interactive with his team. He enjoys all aspects of being at the track more than he ever did in the past.
Several factors should impact Earnhardt's level of performance in 2013. If he is ever going to win multiple races and seriously contend for the championship, it will be next season.
This slideshow will highlight the reasons for this bold prediction that he could indeed win the NASCAR Sprint Cup title.