Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in the midst of his best season since 2008, the year he joined Hendrick Motorsports. That year, he won one race while finishing second in the regular season standings. He finished the season with a pole, 10 Top 5s and 17 Top 10s.
Since that year, he's missed the Chase in 2009 and 2010 while finishing 25th and 21st in the standings, the worst two years of his career.
Earnhardt has had a bit of a resurgence in 2011, already equaling his Top 5 and topping his Top 10 totals from a year ago.
He currently occupies ninth place in the standings, precariously perched on the edge of the Chase zone.
A couple of weeks ago, Junior passed a major hurdle by getting his first Top 15 at Watkins Glen in six years, but there are additional challenges to come if Dale Jr. hopes to make the Chase for the first time in three seasons.