Last week at Kansas Speedway Denny Hamlin won the race and is now tied with Dale Earnhardt Jr. for career NASCAR Sprint Cup race wins. This and the constant reminder every week that Dale Earnhardt Jr. has not won a race in a long time begs the question, will Dale Earnhardt Jr. win again and live up to the expectations that have been set for him. This even came up in a press conference where Kevin Harvick who also happens to be tied with Dale Jr. for career race wins seamed to chime in with support. “I feel sorry for him sometimes, Just to live in his shoes on a daily or weekly basis and answer some of the goofy-ass questions you guys ask him is one thing in itself … The first thing you guys will ask him after he wins a race is ‘when are you going to win a championship.’”
So how long has he gone without a win and what other drivers have a better winning record. Let’s start with the active drivers who have more career NASCAR wins than Dale Jr. does. Obviously Jeff Gordon (85) and Jimmie Johnson (55) do. Moving on down the list we find Tony Stewart (46), Mark Martin (40) then the Busch brothers Kurt (24) and Kyle (23). Then we get to a driver who happened to get into NASCAR Sprint Cup racing about the exact same time as Dale Earnhardt Jr. did, Matt Kenseth has 22 career wins. Then we move on to Jeff Burton and Bobbly Labonte tied with 21. Last year’s second place driver Carl Edwards has one more career Sprint Cup win than Dale Jr. Then we get to the big tie. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick are tied with 18 wins each. Of note Greg Biffle is one win short of joining all of them.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. last won a NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the Michigan International Speedway in June of 2008 that is 137 races ago. When the series gets to Michigan in June if he hasn’t won by then it will be four years.
It does not appear to be affecting him any. Last week at a press conference, Dale Jr. said “I feel like I am the best, you know and I think that that’s the way you got to feel. I feel like I am smarter than everybody and I can driver better than everybody. I know not a lot of people ani’t gonna agree with that but I feel pretty strong about that.” Considering that his teammates are five time Champion Jimmie Johnson and four time Champion Jeff Gordon, that sure is a lot of confidence.
After four dismal finishes and missing the chase those same years, a performance that goes back even further than his losing streak does. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished the season last year 7th in the standings, a marked improvement over the previous four years. With three top five finishes and six top ten finishes in eight races he is on track to be even better this year. His good run so far has put him currently fourth in standings. If he continues that record there is no doubt he will eventually win a race.
Hopefully, NASCARs most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. can win soon; otherwise he might become the “Cubs” of NASCAR racing and his fans will be just like Cub fans waiting for next year. We don’t want to wait for next week, little lone next year, so keep it up Dale. It is only a matter of time and you will get that win.
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