FORT WORTH, Texas — Dale Earnhardt Jr. doesn’t know if or when he’ll win his next Cup race, but he’s in a better position to snap a winless streak that has grown to 135 races than he was last year or the year before.
Throughout the drought, however, Earnhardt hasn’t felt hounded by the question, “When will you win a race?”
“I haven’t really had to answer that question too much,” Earnhardt said Friday in the media center at Texas. “People know I’m not Nostradamus, so they don’t ask me questions about the future.
“I just feel like we’re six points out of the points lead, we’re second in points, and we’re a competitive team in this sport. I think it’s a pretty easy argument to win that we’re a better team than we were last year and better than the year before that. So we’re getting closer.
“I’m ready to win. I’m ready to go to Victory Lane. I’ve been working with these guys (the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team), and they’ve been working so hard, giving me really, really good cars, and they deserve to win races.”
Earnhardt won the first Cup race of his career at Texas in 2000, but memories of that day have receded over the years.
“It’s really hard to remember 12 years ago,” Earnhardt said. “Winning your first race is a great feeling. I’ve answered this question several times in this room, and it gets harder every time, just because it gets farther away.
“When you win your first race . . . you’re just really relieved, because you want to drive cars for a living, and you want to be good at it — you don’t want to struggle your whole life — so winning that first race really kind of cracks that mold away from all that and gives you a little more clear vision on what your future might be.”
No doubt a victory on Saturday night would bring a sense of relief comparable the one Earnhardt felt 12 years ago.