Larry McReynolds opines on whether it's Dale Jr.'s year to win title
I've had a lot of fans ask me this week since Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won his second race of the season and moved to second in the points, if this is finally the year for him to win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. I think we have to be careful with that one and not get too far ahead of ourselves.
Obviously, we know he's locked into the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup. Obviously, we know he's with a great organization with virtually unlimited resources. What we have to remember is that Dale Jr.'s two wins this season are only relative to one race in the Chase and that being Talladega. He'll definitely be taking that same car back to Talladega, for sure.
We have to look at how he is running across the board, and I do like what I am seeing. As I mentioned earlier, he's now second in the points. He has the two wins plus 11 top-10 and nine top-five finishes in our 17 races so far. So the consistency is there plus he has a fast race car. That's always a great combination for winning a championship.
So yes, I believe Dale Jr. is a legitimate championship contender. I just caution folks that no matter who we point to as a top contender, it's only early July. There is still a lot of racing to get through just to get to the Chase, and then there are the 10 races in the Chase.
We might see some front runners go ice cold, as we have in the past. I also remind you about 2011. Tony Stewart barely made the Chase. He even said publicly they weren't that good and didn't deserve to be in the Chase. But do you remember what happened? Tony and his No. 14 team got on a hot streak. Tony won five of the 10 Chase races and won his third championship.
So there is still a lot of racing for us to get through and we might be surprised by the end of the season who rises to the top, and equally as surprised who fades out of the picture.