Dale Earnhardt Jr. is ready for a New Year and a fresh start with NASCAR's new Generation 6 car.
And as comfortable as Earnhardt has become with crew chief Steve Letarte over the past two seasons, there's no reason why the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team shouldn't persevere in 2013.
Earnhardt was on course to make 2012 his best Sprint Cup season since joining the organization in 2008. He won at Michigan, led the points standings for two weeks and qualifying for the Chase for the Sprint Cup was never in doubt.
While some of the competition caught up to Hendrick Motorsports, Earnhardt still seemed primed for the playoffs until he suffered a concussion at Talladega in October -- one compounded by an earlier testing crash at Kansas Speedway on Aug. 29 -- that sidelined the driver for two races in the middle of the Chase.
Earnhardt made a full recovery and competed in the final four races. With the exception of laps led (358 in 2012 compared to 896 in 2008) and inevitably finishing ...