Move over Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. believes he’s ready to win the title in 2014.
Coming off his most successful Chase for the Sprint Cup — he finished fifth, tying a career best — Earnhardt feels the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team is ready to make a championship run.
“Really happy to run as well as we have this season,” said Earnhardt, who finished third at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday night. “This has been one of the best years I've had, certainly the best year I've had working with Hendrick. Just want to give my team a lot of credit. (Crew chief) Steve Letarte, my engineers, did just an amazing job providing these good cars every week.
“Hoping next year we continue that trend and that trajectory and get a shot at winning a championship. I think we can do it.”
Although Earnhardt’s winless streak stretched to 54 races, he matched his career high of 10 top-five finishes since the Chase debuted in 2004. He also set a personal best with 22 top-10 finishes. Over the course of the Chase, Junior led laps in eight of 10 races and posted an average finish of 8.5, despite his engine failure at Chicagoland Speedway in September.
Team owner Rick Hendrick said that without the engine mishap, NASCAR’s most popular driver “would have been right there.”