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From the Marbles

Through six races, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is second in points and a win is on the horizon

Nick Bromberg
From The Marbles

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. is inching closer and closer to victory lane. (Getty)

The talk about Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s winles streak will certainly continue on over the Sprint Cup Series' first off-weekend of the season, but after the first six races of 2012, it's become increasingly obvious that the streak's existence is getting more and more tenuous.

After finishing third at Martinsville on Sunday, Junior's now second in the points standings, four points behind leader Greg Biffle, while getting ever closer to victory lane.

The streak, which sits at 135 races for those of you keeping track, wasn't going to end on Sunday. While Junior led three laps, his Hendrick teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson led 440. But it was yet another sign that Junior and company are much faster than they were in 2011 and that the team's finishes are indicative of the quality of their performance.

Case in point: Through six races last year, Earnhardt Jr. qualified outside the top 20 at every race except Daytona. This year, Junior's qualified outside the top 20 just once, when he started 29th at Phoenix. Through these first six races, Junior has three top fives and four top 10s. Last year, Junior only had four top fives during the entire season.

With crew chief Steve Letarte, consistency has never been a problem. It's just that the team has been consistent at having good, but not great, finishes. Now, with a second and two thirds through six races, Junior's been consistently very, very good. And consistent top fives will net a win sooner, rather than later.

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