Dale Earnhardt Jr. believes he enters this year's NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup with his best ever shot yet at becoming champion. The Hendrick Motorsports driver has enjoyed his most consistent regular season ever.
He heads into the final 10 races of the season seventh in the standings, having scored the second most points of any driver during the first 26 races, beaten only by Roush Fenway's Greg Biffle.
In four previous appearances in the Chase, Earnhardt's best result came in 2004 while he was driving for his late father's Dale Earnhardt Inc. team. Back then he won six races, including two during the play-off, and finished fifth in the championship. Earnhardt believes he now has a more complete team and is confident that his regular-season consistency can put him in position to win his first Cup title.
"I think this is the best chance I've ever had, I think even more than 2004," said Earnhardt. "Looking back on that year I didn't realize how close we could've come or how good that chance was. We really were a strong team, one of the two strongest teams in the series that year.
"I think we're a more complete team now, we've run good at all racetracks or the majority of the racetracks with this group that we've got today. I feel here there's no dominant figure in the team that stands out and that really builds our confidence that [the title] is there for the taking.
"If we can put together consistent weeks, week in, week out, and win a couple of races, we can be the champion, no question about it."
Earnhardt is one of four Hendrick Motorsports drivers who will be fighting for this year's Cup title.