By MARK LONG
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — It's been a decade since Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s lone Daytona 500 victory.
He's come close so many times since, even finishing second three of the last four years, but has yet to make that coveted drive down pit road and into Victory Lane.
No one should be surprised to find him back there Sunday.
Forget that Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth have won the first three Sprint Cup races during Speedweeks. Disregard that Richard Childress Racing has pole-sitter Austin Dillon, who is driving the No. 3 made famous by Earnhardt's late father, as well as three other stout cars. Ignore that anything can and often does happen at Daytona International Speedway.
This just might be Junior's year. The 39-year-old driver seems primed for his best season ever and it starts at the track forever linked to his family name because of triumph and tragedy.