Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win after four years and 143 races without a first place finish.
Earnhardt Jr.'s four year drought had many fans and critics questioning whether the good ole boy still had it. But after his June 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup victory at Michigan International Speedway, even his girlfriend, Amy Reimann, is convinced that No. 88 can still ride with the best of them.
The driver of the black and green Chevrolet crossed the finish line, beating out fellow driver Tony Stewart by 5.393 seconds in the Sunday afternoon race. Shortly after, the man who is believed to be NASCAR's most popular driver indulged in a celebratory kiss with Reimann, Earnhardt's long-time girlfriend.
Cameras rolled as the self-described introvert gave the world a rare peek inside his personal life. It was only in December that Earnhardt and Reimann made their first public appearance together at the season-ending NASCAR awards ceremony in Las Vegas.
When asked about the kiss, Earnhardt told USA Today, We're doing pretty good. I'm glad Amy was here to celebrate with me. It means a lot. She's a good girl, and we've had a good relationship. I've got a lot of good people around me right now, and I feel like the people that I do spend my time around make me a better person -- definitely a lot better person than I was years ago.
Reimann, through a spokesman for Earnhardt said, she couldn't be happier for him and his team. I know how much it means to Dale. He is a bad---, and I know there is definitely more to come.
While Earnhardt already had 11 Top-10 finishes this season and was second in the points standings entering this race, he was still sweating out the finish of a race he won by a long shot.
I was in there just going crazy, he told ESPN. I just knew I was going to come around the next corner and see a piece of metal laying in the racetrack. I just was waiting on something to happen. That was terrifying.
The victory came almost exactly four years to the day after his last trip to Victory Lane in a Cup race. That also was in Michigan -- on June 15, 2008.
Earnhardt's 143 races between wins was the sixth-longest streak in Sprint Cup history.