Living up to his name
This isn't a question of Junior getting better. He is already there.
It's now a question of whether he can continue to fulfill his potential as the most consistent driver on the Cup circuit.
Earnhardt is smokin' this season, with six top fives and 12 top 10s. It was only a matter of time before he won a race. He is dialed in with crew chief Steve Letarte. Multiple victories are easily within the realm of possibility.
"Dale is just — he's just switched on," said owner Rick Hendrick. "He's got the confidence. ... Every week they're the best by far. He's sitting in the catbird seat to win his first championship."
Hendrick is right. Junior is finally living up to the expectations that come with his last name.
Could be starting a roll
If this were the NBA, the conspiracy theorists would have a field day. Dale Jr.'s drought-ender, on Father's Day no less, was just what NASCAR and its TV partners needed. Ratings were down before the Michigan race and contract negotiations are right around the corner.
But this was no pre-designed fix to give the brand a shot in the arm. Junior has been fast and consistent all season, and he dominated Michigan. He may have had the best car at Pocono a week earlier but played it cautiously to protect his points.
With him now in sync with crew chief Steve Letarte and the Hendrick team clicking — six wins in the last seven events — Junior could be starting a roll.