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NASCAR: Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Other Top Surprises in the Sprint Cup Standings

Junior Nation has to be excited. NASCAR's most popular driver has climbed all the way to third in the standings, and it's looking like he'll make the Chase for the first time since 2008. After ranking 25th and 21st the last two seasons, this is a stunning turnaround. Sure, Junior hasn't broken that winless streak, which stretched to 101 races after a fourth-place run at Talladega.However, Junior already has five top-10s in 2011 after a total of only eight during the entire 2010 season. The only time he finished worse than 12th was the season-opening Daytona 500, a race in which he had one of the strongest cars. The sustained signs of improvement shown by Dale Jr. and his team are perhaps better than a solitary win for creating mom...

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