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Jay Busbee

Don't fear the beard: Junior has gone clean-shaven

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Hey, forget driver and sponsor news for a moment. Let's focus on what's really important these days: Dale Earnhardt Jr. is now clean-shaven!

The photo at right there was taken by one of Junior's marketing assistants on Tuesday during an Amp Energy shoot, and depicts everybody's favorite whipping boy with baby-smooth cheeks once again.

Now, you can decide for yourself whether Junior looks better shorn or with scraggly crazy-old-man-on-the-mountain chin whiskers. What's indisputable is that with the beard, Junior's been having some fine luck.

He currently sits in seventh place, with two top-10s, including a second-place finish at Daytona, in eight starts. Was the beard magic? Perhaps, perhaps not. We'll find out soon enough.

The Beard inspired its own betting lines (odds of the Beard making the Chase were better than Junior) and, briefly, had its own Twitter page. Alas, the Beard is gone now, perhaps to a driver more in need of some good luck.

So when Kasey Kahne shows up at Talladega with a red beard, well, you'll know what's up.

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