Can Dale Earnhardt Jr. come out stronger in 2013?

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mt. Dew Chevrolet, stands on stage during NASCAR After The Lap at PH Live at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on November 29, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)

It seemed like a year full of promise for Dale Earnhardt Jr.  After several seasons spent struggling, NASCAR‘s most popular driver started the 2012 season with a second place finish in the Daytona 500. There seemed to be a new found energy in entire Hendrick Motorsports crew. Earnhardt backed that Daytona finish up with several strong runs early in the year, a pair of third place runs at Fontana and Martinsville.

Suddenly it seemed that 2012 might be the season when Earnhardt would break his winless streak dating back to 2008. By the time the series rolled into Michigan in June, Earnhardt already had 11 top ten finishes, a figure that matched his total for all of the previous season.  The Junior Nation finally had a reason to cheer as Earnhardt did indeed break his streak winning the Michigan race.  But more importantly just before the halfway point in the season, Earnhardt seemed to be a legitimate contender for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title.  He would leave Michigan second in the standings and with an all important ten point bonus.

He would take over the points lead for the first time since 2004 after a strong fourth place run at Indy.  He would hold that slim margin until a mistake late in the race at Watkins Glen sent him spinning and out of the standings lead. MORE>>>

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