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Associated Press
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is trying to shake a 135-race, nearly 4-year winless streak in NASCAR Sprint Cup at Fort Worth, Texas.
Auto racing

Earnhardt feeling closer to returning to Victory Lane

– Dale Earnhardt Jr. seems so close to finally winning again.

There was his runner-up finish in the season-opening Daytona 500 and consecutive third-place finishes before the Easter weekend break. He hasn’t finished lower than 15th while completing every lap this season, and is second in points only six behind Greg Biffle.

So is this the weekend that Earnhardt’s 135-race, nearly four-year winless streak in NASCAR Sprint Cup comes to an end?

“People know I’m not Nostradamus, so they don’t ask me questions about the future,” Earnhardt said.

Based on the performance so far this season, though, Earnhardt is confident that the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is getting closer to being back in Victory Lane.

“I think it’s a pretty easy argument to win that we’re better this year than we were last year, and better than the year before that. So we’re getting closer,” he said. “I don’t really know what the measuring stick is but I think hopefully it’s real close. ... We’re going to just keep trying. We’re getting closer though, at least that’s the bright spot of the deal.”

Earnhardt qualified 16th for Saturday night’s race.

It was at the 1 1/2 -mile high-banked Texas track where the younger Earnhardt got his first victory in both of NASCAR’s top two series. He had a pair of top-10 Sprint Cup finishes here last year.

Earnhardt got his first win in what is now the Nationwide Series in 1998.

Stewart driving backup car

Defending Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, who won at Texas last November on his wall to the title, scraped the wall hard early during Friday’s practice session.

Stewart then switched to a backup Chevrolet, and was able to get that car on the track before the end of practice. The team switched engines between practice and qualifying and will start 29th.

Since the engine switch was made before qualifying, Stewart will not have to go to the back of the field for the green flag Saturday night.

Hight positioned for 4th straight win

Robert Hight topped Funny Car qualifying Saturday in the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Concord, N.C., with a run of 4.074 seconds at 317.19 mph in the third round. Hight has won the last three events in his Ford Mustang

Steve Torrence led the Top Fuel competition, and Charlotte resident Jason Line topped the Pro Stock lineup. Torrence had a pass of 3.799 at 322.34, Line set the national speed record at 213.91 and 6.493.