Dale Earnhardt Jr has admitted that he needs to take a step up to match his Hendrick Motorsports teammates, after Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne's wins in the last three NASCAR Sprint Cup races, but insists their success is motivating.
Despite his win drought dragging on to 141 races, Earnhardt is currently the best-placed Hendrick runner in the standings, holding fourth in the points after taking nine top-10 finishes this season – the most of any driver.
Earnhardt is also the only driver to have finished every race on the lead lap this year, but statistics for laps led show he has spent less time at the sharp end of the field than any of his Hendrick teammates.
"I'm not competitive on the racetrack with my teammates at all, but when you see those guys win you do wish it was you going to victory lane," Earnhardt said. "You are happy for them, but at the same time you're a driver with a team that feels like they deserve to win, and they're ready to win, and we've been wanting to win for so long. It's a good thing.
"I think it motivates you to work harder, and try to find victory lane that much harder if at all possible. It doesn't have really a negative effect on me or the team when those guys go out and win. But, you do wish it was you. You wish you were the guy going to victory lane."
As the Cup regular season reaches its halfway point this weekend, Earnhardt looks more than likely to be part of this year's Chase, though his lack of wins could hamper his chances as the campaign reaches its decisive stages.