The rejuvenation of Earnhardt Junior

The rejuvenation of Earnhardt Junior

The most popular driver in NASCAR became mired in mediocrity for a couple of seasons, yet over the past 14 months Dale Earnhardt Jr. has shown signs of progress with the multi-title winning Hendrick squad

One of the great truisms in sport is that you are what your record says you are. Since joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2008, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s record has been hugely disappointing – just one points race victory (Michigan in '08); just one top-10 points finish (seventh last year). And just nine top-five race finishes from 2009-'11 – fewer than mid-pack runners like Marcos Ambrose, Joey Logano and David Reutimann over the same period.

Much was expected when Earnhardt joined NASCAR's most elite team, but precious little has been delivered so far, at least on track. Everyone has a theory as to why Earnhardt has underachieved: There have been suggestions that Junior is too nice a guy and needs to race with more aggression, while others say that with an estimated net worth of about $300 million, Earnhardt isn't especially motivated.

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