Dale Earnhardt Jr. has suffered through what feels like an eternity for his legions of fans, but this looks like the season he will finally break through and have an opportunity to compete for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup title.
There are several key factors working in Dale Jr.'s favor. One is that he is now teamed with the No. 48 Lowe's team in the same garage. This exposes him to Chad Knaus, the man who took Jimmie Johnson from a nobody to a five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champ and 50-plus wins on the NASCAR circuit.
Knaus knows it is on him as much as it is on Steve Latarte, Earnhardt's crew chief. Knaus considers it a challenge to help the No. 88 team exceed all expectations. Especially after many commentators noted the No. 48 team did not appear to be good teammates based on the No. 24 teams results over the last several years.