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“I feel pretty young still. I feel like I’m in good shape. I feel young in my mind. I feel like I have good energy,” he said. “I feel like I’m in the best opportunity of my career. There is a `seize the moment’ kind of feeling because I’m in such good equipment around such good people. I don’t feel like there is a clock in the background ticking away that is annoying me or anything like that.”

But even though that long losing streak is a thing of the past, Earnhardt realizes the pressure to win never really subsides _ especially for a driver whose performance over the last couple years has raised expectations. He has only the two Michigan victories in 192 starts for Hendrick Motorsports after winning 17 times in 291 starts for Dale Earnhardt Inc.

“I think that the perception from you guys is similar to how we feel. We are like a lot of teams trying to find that extra step,” he said. “It’s difficult to win in this sport. It’s really competitive. It’s not much more for us to be able to get to that level to be able to win more.”