Is Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s win a blip, or is there more to come? [Poll]
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is second in the Sprint Cup points standings and has been consistently impressive all year.
Still, there was one thing hanging over the head of NASCAR’s most popular driver -- he hadn’t won a race in a long, long time.
“I knew it was going to happen, just didn’t know when,” Earnhardt said.
It happened Sunday, four years and two days after his last victory and at the same location: Michigan International Speedway. Earnhardt won the Quicken Loans 400 in convincing fashion, beating Tony Stewart by 5.393 seconds for his 19th Sprint Cup Series victory
The question now becomes, when will he do it again? Was Sunday’s win just a blip or is Junior all better after a four-year funk?
Writers from around Tribune Co. will discuss the topic throughout the day. Please check back for their responses and feel free to join the discussion by voting in the poll and leaving a comment of your own.
[Updated at 11:37 a.m.:
Jim Peltz, Los Angeles Times
Winning again this season won’t be easy -- no Sprint Cup Series driver has won more than twice through 15 races -- but Dale Earnhardt Jr. is as poised as anyone to visit Victory Lane a second time in 2012.
Earnhardt has 12 top-10 finishes so far this season, more than any driver, and everyone agreed it was a simply matter of time until he finally won again. Earnhardt also now has some momentum and, for the first time in years, the popular driver and his Hendrick Motorsports crew can race without the burden of the winless streak hanging over their heads.
Perhaps Earnhardt’s best chance for a second win comes in three weeks, when the series returns to one of his best tracks: Daytona International Speedway.]
[Updated at 11:51 a.m.:
Keith Groller, Allentown Morning Call
If this was the NBA, the conspiracy theorists would have a field day. After all, Dale Jr.'s drought-ender, on Father’s Day no less, was just what NASCAR and its TV partners needed. Ratings were down before the Michigan race, and contract negotiations are right around the corner.
But this was no pre-designed fix to give the brand a needed shot in the arm. Junior has been fast and consistent all season, evidenced by his position in the points race, and he dominated Michigan. He may have had the best car at Pocono a week earlier, but played it cautiously to protect his points.
With him now in sync with crew chief Steve Letarte and the Hendrick team on a roll -- six wins in the last seven events -- Junior could be starting a roll of his own.]
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