Originally written on Fox Sports  |  Last updated 11/14/14

LAS VEGAS - DECEMBER 03: NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. speaks during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champions Week NMPA Myers Brothers Awards at the Venetian Resort Hotel & Casino on December 3, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Team building has been at the core of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s success this season. On Sunday, Earnhardt Jr. celebrated his second consecutive Chase for the Sprint Cup berth with his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports squad at the home of crew chief Steve Letarte. While Junior likely focused more on the Washington Redskins game than frolicking by the pool at Chez Letarte, the activity didn't matter. The ability for this group to perform as one unit on and off the track -- as it has all season and will need to during the next 10 weeks -- will be critical to Earnhardt's championship quest. Since Letarte took command of the No. 88 team at the end of 2010, the changes have been few. His focus has been developing an environment where Earnhardt could thrive. And Letarte's leadership has paid off. "Steve is always looking at ways to improve the team," Earnhardt said. "I think he has. Anytime he's put the effort in to improve the team he has, and things have gotten better. "The last couple of ye...
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