- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2011

BRISTOL, TENN. (AP) - Dale Earnhardt Jr. is off to a fast start this season and back in the top 10 in points for the first time since early last year.

The impressive start can be traced to new crew chief Steve Letarte, who has done a good job improving the communication of NASCAR’s most popular driver.

Still, Earnhardt believes the buzz should be tempered. It’s only three races into the season, and Earnhardt says the true test will be maintaining consistency over the next nine months.

Earnhardt goes into Sunday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway with two consecutive top-10 finishes.