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History Tells Us Dale Earnhardt Jr Could Be a Factor at Martinsville

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After two weeks of rest, Dale Earnhardt Jr is back in the race car and could be one to watch out for this weekend at Martinsville.

Jason Smith

As the Sprint Cup Series returns to Martinsville Speedway for the final time in 2012, NASCAR's Most Popular Driver will also make his much needed return to the track.

Dale Earnhardt Jr, who has been out of the car for the past two weeks, has been medically cleared by NASCAR and Dr. Jerry Petty to compete in this weekends Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

All eyes will be on Jimmie Johnson and Brad Kesoloweski as they continue to battle for the Sprint Cup, but eyes will also be on Dale Jr when he makes his return.

While we will see him in the car for the first time in almost three weeks on Sunday, some have begun to speculate whether Earnhardt Jr has a legitimate shot at winning this weekend.

Statistically speaking, Dale Earnhardt Jr has been exceptionally good at Martinsville over the last three years. Since the fall Martinsville race in 2010, he has not finished outside the top-10 since the spring race of that same year.

While statistics gives Earnhardt a boost to the argument, no one has him as a race favorite.

I don't believe that Earnhardt Jr is a race favorite, but I do think he will be in contention for the win. When you look at his stats over the last several years, he is someone you have to watch out for. He has had opportunities over the last two years alone to win a grandfather clock, but he come up just short.

Maybe Junior Nation will get a surprise for Halloween? We'll have to wait and see.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.