Can Dale Jr. win in 2017?
After missing a large chunk of the 2016 season due to a concussion, Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he is ready to go for 2017. Can he be a championship contender?
According to oddsmakers at Bovada.lv, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is listed with 13/1 odds to win the 2017 NASCAR Cup Championship, which is now sponsored by Monster Energy. Kevin Harvick is the favorite at 13/2 while Jimmie Johnson has 7/1 odds.
Prior to 2016, Earnhardt Jr. had qualified for the postseason chase each year in NASCAR, but been unable to find a way to win the title. Last year, Dale Jr. competed in the first 18 races of the season, racking up four runner-up finishes without a win.
The second half of the season saw Earnhardt miss all 18 races due to concussion-like symptoms. At first Dale Jr. announced he would be out a few races, but the absence kept extending as the symptoms were not disappearing. He was finally medically clear to return to action on Dec. 8 of last year, and is electing to get back in the car.
Earnhardt began his pro career in 1996 and has been going strong since. He has never managed to win a season title outside of the Xfinity Series. His best finish was third in 2003. His top Chase finish was fifth, which came in 2013.