NASCAR: Earnhardt ready to race for title
Associated PressLOUDON, N.H. ó Dale Earnhardt Jr. has 18 career victories, more than $52 million in winnings and a perpetual hold on NASCAR’s most popular driver award.
The only thing missing from his resume is a coveted Cup championship.
What would adding that elusive title mean?
“It would improve my overall awesomeness,” Earnhardt declared.
“Yeah. I worked on greatness for a while,” he explained, “but I tapped it out.”
The quest for “awesomeness” begins Sunday at New Hampshire International Speedway, where Earnhardt starts the Chase for the championship seeded fourth in the 12-driver field.
After a one-year absence, he’s back in the title hunt and couldn’t be more thrilled to be among the contenders. And there’s no doubt whatsoever his enthusiasm is genuine.
Earnhardt was in a fantastic mood during NASCAR’s two-day swing through New York City to promote the Chase, and tales of his humorous exploits and one-liners followed him from stop-to-stop as teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson asked for constant updates.
When Junior is on, everyone wants to be part of the show.
And if he has it his way, the next 10 weeks will be an all-star performance.
He’s statistically had better seasons ó “I won six races in 2004, remember?” ó but Earnhardt revealed this week he believes he lost the championship that year because he wasn’t prepared to win one. He finished fifth in the final points standings that season, the first year of the Chase, and can rattle off a list of mistakes he made down the stretch that took him out of title contention.
He still drove for Dale Earnhardt Inc. back then, and before this season, it was his last legitimate chance to win a title.