Brooklyn (AP) — Dale Earnhardt Jr. raced to his first Sprint Cup victory in four years Sunday at Michigan
International Speedway, ending a 143-race winless streak.
The victory came almost exactly four years to the day after his last
trip to victory lane in a Cup race. That was also in Michigan, on June
15, 2008. He led for 36 laps last weekend at Pocono but made a late stop
for gas instead of trying to stretch the fuel to the end.
On Sunday, it was not even close. He pulled away in the final 25 laps of
the 400-mile race, and his black Chevrolet with the green No. 88
crossed the finish line 5.393 seconds ahead of Tony Stewart.
“Those last 15 laps were the longest laps ever,” Earnhardt said.
Earnhardt already had 11 top-10 finishes this season and was second in
the points standings entering this race. But after another close run at
Pocono, the questions kept coming about his dry spell.
That’s over. “Dale had the fastest car all day,” Stewart said. “It’s not
a national holiday, guys. This morning they were celebrating his fourth
anniversary of his last win, so I guess we’re all in a state of
mourning now, because he’s broke that string now, so I don’t know what
we’re all supposed to think.”
Earnhardt remains second to Matt Kenseth in the standings. Earnhardt’s
143 races between wins was the sixth-longest streak in Sprint Cup
Like his last victory in Michigan, this one came on Father’s Day —
fitting for the driver whose father is revered around Nascar circles.
Dale Earnhardt Sr. died in a last-lap crash at the Daytona 500 in 2001.
The son is now Nascar’s most popular driver — a fact not lost on him in
the moments after the win.
“To do it for my fans — they stuck behind me for all these years,” he said.