Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been able to pull off a repeat of sorts this year by advancing to the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series points standings at the beginning of this season. This makes two years in a row that he has held the points lead.
While last year Jr. was only able to grasp the lead for a short week after last year’s Pennsylvania 400, this year has come out of the gate swinging for the fences. Dale has been able to wheel this Hendrick Motorsports number 88 into a perfect set of five top 10 finishes in this first stretch of the season.
This has lit the Jr. fanbase aflame as it looks like the Generation-6 car may have just been what Dale and crew chief Steve Latarte were looking for to bring his racing to another level. After a disappointing chase last year when Dale was forced to miss a couple races after sustaining a concussion, it’s good to see this team back up on its feet and running.
NASCAR’s most popular driver is twelve points ahead of reigning champ Brad Keselowski. Jr. tends to run very well at Martinsville so don’t expect the streak to end. Maybe he can go better than an top 10 and get a win. The only driver that is rolling with such momentum as Jr. does going into Martinsville is Kyle Busch who also is seeking his own redemption this season. Busch has a record in the last three races of 4th, 2nd, and last week a win at Fontana, CA.
If Jr. is going to keep his lead he is going to have to fight for it. Reigning champ, his own teammate Jimmie Johnson, and ascending Kyle Busch certainly aren’t likely to just let him have it.