NASCAR

Junior, team carrying momentum

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished third at Pocono Raceway.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished third at Pocono Raceway.
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Jeff Hammond

Jeff Hammond is a former NASCAR crew chief who led Darrell Waltrip to two of his three Sprint Cup championships. The duo also teamed up to win the 1989 Daytona 500. Prior to that, Hammond was the jackman for Cale Yarborough for all three of his Cup championships. He has 43 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief. Follow him on Twitter.

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Dale Earnhardt career moments

SUPER STAR

Junior's impact goes well beyond the track. CAREER MOMENTS

If I am Dale Earnhardt Jr., who just finished third last week at Pocono, plus jumped two spots in the points to fourth position, I have to be extremely excited about heading to the Irish Hills of Michigan this weekend. Remember that Dale won this race last year, and I believe the team is stronger now than they were then.

I think this new Gen-6 car is something that he really has been waiting for. That No. 88 has shown strength and resiliency this year, I think a little more so than last season. Oh, by the way, let’s not lose sight of the Super Hero factor, too! Last year Earnhardt won the Michigan race with Batman on the car. This year he returns to the Irish Hills with Superman on his car. So, I look for the entire team and especially the driver to be pumped up and focused.

Obviously, last year Earnhardt’s championship hopes were cut short with the concussion and being taken out of the car for a few races. Right now, though, they are hitting on all cylinders, and I think anything is possible for this bunch when it comes to vying for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.

Stop and remember who his teammates are and who he drives for. Rick Hendrick is our sport’s premier car owner. Two of Earnhardt’s teammates, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, combined have nine championships. His third and newest teammate, Kasey Kahne, already has a win under his belt and has been bad-fast almost every week.

How many wins will it take to win the championship? That’s the biggest question all the drivers in the Chase will face. I feel the No. 88 can win a race in the Chase but, realistically, they are probably going to have to win at least a couple races in the Chase.

When you look at the racetracks that are in the Chase, you have to consider him a very serious threat. So, I think they will need at least two wins in the Chase to put themselves mathematically in position to bring home Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.

Tagged: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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