The five-year contract extension Dale Earnhardt Jr. signed with Rick Hendrick was inevitable. Earnhardt is not the best driver in NASCAR, but he is the most popular. Along with competing for championships, the sport is about selling products.
Although Earnahardt has yet to win a title, or a race since joining Hendrick in 2008, he will make the Chase most years, and he eventually will cross a finish line first. He doesn't have the talent Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch do, but who does?
Junior's detractors won't care about this. But of all the star athletes I've been around, the athletes whose popularity is bigger than their sport, the athletes everybody knows of and notices, Earnhardt is the least affected.
He just goes about his life without airs, without pretension.
Junior will win a race. And much of NASCAR, including those of us who have spent time around him, will be thrilled.