Earnhardt Jr. has the look of a NASCAR Sprint Cup champion

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fourth Sunday at New Hampshire. (Getty Images)


Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fourth Sunday at New Hampshire. (Getty Images)

For the first time in many years NASCAR’s most popular driver is a legitimate contender. After breaking his winless streak at Michigan in June, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has rattled off two top five finishes in the last four races. While in the other two Earnhardt finished outside the top 20 and 15th, they marked the only real low point in a season that has Earnhardt second in the points. Earnhardt finished fourth Sunday at New Hampshire and instead of being satisfied as in years past, Earnhardt was somewhat disappointed and is looking for more.

“We were just about a tenth off all weekend,” Earnhardt said. “We tire tested here, and were quick and real happy with the car, so not sure where it went. Steve (Letarte, crew chief) and my guys worked really hard on the car during the race, we just could get any better than we were. Happy with another top-five, but need to get some better and win some more races.”

The last time Earnhardt was second in points after the first race at New Hampshire was in 2004 when he was second behind Jimmie Johnson.  He would finish the season fifth in points despite winning a career high six races.  Fast forward to 2012; Earnhardt is second in points and under NASCAR’s new point system he’s only 16 markers out of the lead.  Earnhardt will be in this year’s Chase and said Sunday he’s looking forward to returning to New Hampshire when the Chase is underway. MORE>>>