Gas 'N' Go: When Will Dale Jr. Win Next?

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Earnhardt Jr. ended a 55-race winless streak last weekend at Daytona. (Photo: Getty Images)

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The pits are open again and, MotorRacingNetwork.com's Pete Pistone and Dustin Long each answer this week's featured question in "Gas 'N' Go."

With a win already under his belt at Daytona, will Dale Earnhardt Jr. win again in 2014 and if so, where?

MRN Staff

Answer

Pete Pistone
Pete Pistone

I'm sorry to be a party pooper but just because Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Daytona 500 doesn't necessarily mean more wins are just around the corner. One of the sport's biggest cliches for any driver is the notion that winning a race guarantees more trips to Victory Lane will come in short order.

The fact of the matter is that Earnhardt has always been a master at restrictor-plate racing and when Daytona and Talladega roll around he should always be considered a serious contender. Last Sunday he finally hit pay dirt after coming close several times in recent years.

But now the series heads into the meat and potatoes portion of the season with a variety of tracks that are drastically different on a weekly basis beginning with this Sunday's stop at Phoenix International Raceway. Last year proved Earnhardt and crew chief Steve Letarte could certainly contend for wins with a fifth-place finish in the standings and five second place finishes. However until the Daytona 500, it had been 55 races since the 88 car last took at checkered flag.

Earnhardt has the benefit of knowing he's a virtual lock for the Chase and Letarte can take gambles and play strategies for the next 25 weeks if he so chooses. But I think Junior's next win comes in similar fashion to his first of 2014 - at Talladega in May in a restrictor plate race.

Dustin Long
Dustin Long

Tough question with the rule changes altering how the cars react. You would expect Hendrick Motorsports to be among the teams to adjust quickly because of their resources. Still, winning the Daytona 500 is no guarantee of immediate success. Five of the last seven Daytona 500 winners didn’t win again until July at the earliest.

In Earnhardt’s favor is his performance in the Chase, ending the year with top-five finishes at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway. It will be interesting to see how much the team gambles for a win since it likely has secured a Chase spot with its "500" win.

If Earnhardt is to win early, look for it to happen at Texas. He finished second to Jimmie Johnson, who dominated in November, but maybe crew chief Steve Letarte makes the right gambles to win that race. If not there, maybe Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.

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