This could very well be the most important year ever in Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s career. Not only does he turn 40 years old in October, more importantly, 2014 will be his final season with Steve Letarte as his crew chief.
Without question, Letarte has been Junior's best crew chief since Tony Eury Sr. during the younger Earnhardt's early days at his father's shop, the (unfortunately) now defunct Dale Earnhardt Inc.
With Letarte headed to NBC as an analyst in 2015, there's somewhat of a sense of urgency that Earnhardt not only get back to winning races this season, but that this could very well be his best—and potentially last—chance at that elusive first career Sprint Cup championship.
Who will replace Letarte? Good question. Whoever it is, he'll have huge shoes to fill.
One thing Junior would like to do is send Letarte out as a championship-winning crew chief. But to do so, he has to win races—lots of them, in fact. His lack of wins over the last seven seasons—no wins since 2012 and just two wins since the start of the 2007 season—is in stark contrast to the early part of his career. All told, Earnhardt comes into 2014 with 19 career wins, 115 top-fives and 204 top-10 finishes in 505 career starts.
Still, there are several race tracks on the circuit at which he could potentially take the checkered flag in 2014, starting with the season-opening Daytona 500.
Let's break down the races where Earnhardt could very well come out on top.