Dale Earnhardt Jr. remains in good position to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup, but hasn’t been able to find the winning touch in 2013.
Fortunately for him, the Cup circus returns to Michigan this weekend, where his most recent victory took place last season.
Earnhardt was a threat to win at the fast, two-mile oval back in mid-June but lost his engine on Lap 131 on a day where he and the entire Hendrick Motorsports camp suffered. But he’s optimistic that he can get right back to the front in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400.
“We’re working real hard – [a win] could come any weekend,” Earnhardt said Monday according to the Associated Press. “We’re going to Michigan this weekend and feel like it’s a place we can succeed at. Obviously, it’s the place where we won our last two races at [2008, 2012].
“We just anticipate it happening any week and go in every week with the attitude that we can be competitive and win the race, and we’ve been pretty strong all season, so the confidence is high.”
NASCAR’s most popular driver shot out of the gates this season with a streak of five consecutive Top-10 runs that put him atop the Cup standings. Since then, he’s quietly maintained a spot in the Top 10 of the championship but has yet to become a regular contender for wins.
Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen didn’t help matters. A late crash that saw Earnhardt slam into a spinning Kasey Kahne as part of a six-car pileup relegated NASCAR’s most popular driver to a 30th-place finish.
Earnhardt slipped to sixth in the championship as a result, but on Monday, he maintained his belief that he’ll still be racing for his first Cup title come September.
“We had a good car and was real happy how the car ran [at the Glen],” he said. “You can’t do much with the luck we had, but we are looking pretty good as far as making the Chase and feel pretty confident that we’re going to be able to do that.”