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Winless three years, NASCAR's Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he's closer to victory

June 17, 2011 |  1:48 pm


When Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove to Victory Lane at Michigan International Speedway on June 15, 2008, who knew that the popular NASCAR driver would return three years later without another win?

But Earnhardt, preparing for Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race at the two-mile oval in Brooklyn, Mich., is having his most competitive season since then and feels he's close to ending his 107-race winless streak.

"I'm having one of the best years I have ever had," Earnhardt told reporters at Michigan in comments released by Team Chevy Racing. "The cars have been there every weekend."

Indeed, despite not winning, Earnhardt sits third in the Cup championship standings, only 10 points behind leader Carl Edwards and four points behind five-time champion Jimmie Johnson, Earnhardt's teammate at Hendrick Motorsports.

Earnhardt, 36, has eight top-10 finishes and three top-five finishes so far this season in his No. 88 Chevrolet.

Asked if he was upset about not winning yet, Earnhardt replied, "I'm thrilled to be having such a good year that it's hard to be upset. I could have easily been written off over the last couple years."

Earnhardt also said he can't become so focused on getting another win that he makes a big mistake and slows his momentum.

"The one thing that you have to be careful of is not to get too excited and screw up," he said. "[I] would like to win a race and we're trying to, but we don't want to get . . . too careless about it."

After Michigan, the Cup series returns to California for a race June 26 at Infineon Raceway, a curvy road course in the Sonoma wine country.


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Should NASCAR owners be held to a higher standard than drivers?

--Jim Peltz

Photo: NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. before practice Friday at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich. Credit: Andrew Weber/US Presswire