Your Turn: Contender or pretender?
Our experts get to have their say every Tuesday, debating the week's burning questions in our Turn 4 wrangle.
Now it's Your Turn.
We're selecting one hot-button topic each week and let y'all have at it. We invite you to cast your vote in the accompanying poll and then steer down to the Conversations section below and tell us why you voted the way you did.
Prefer Twitter? You can tweet your response using the hashtag #ESPNYourTurn.
We will collect the top tweets and most engaging comments and publish them below. Check back throughout the day to see if yours gets posted.
This week's question: Is Dale Earnhardt Jr. a 2012 championship contender or pretender?
Earnhardt begins the 10-race Chase playoff in a seventh-place tie with Matt Kenseth, nine points behind leader Denny Hamlin. The Chase for the Cup kicks off Sunday (2 p.m., ESPN and WatchESPN) at Chicagoland Speedway.
So what say you, NASCAR Nation? Does Earnhardt have what it takes to win a Cup championship this year?
Now have at it
The best from Twitter (#ESPNYourTurn)
Dale Jr. has been in contention to win several times this year and run well. Obvious contender. #ESPNYourTurn— Kyle Findley ½ (@KFizz21) September 12, 2012
Yes Jr. is a Contender. His Worse finish was caused by a broke Transmission. He will finish either 1st or 2nd in the standings #ESPNYourTurn— Clint Duncan (@SPClint32) September 12, 2012
The best from ESPN Conversations
• txtechjmacattack -- Earnhardt's been way too consistent to not be considered a contender. He's not a favorite by any means -- though I personally believe he's the best bullet in the Hendrick camp -- but I fully expect him to be in contention when the Chase starts coming to a close. I DO think that team will need another win if they are going to win it. If the No. 88 makes another trip to victory lane here soon, look out.
• Hardees28Fan1 -- It would be hard not to consider someone a contender who finished the "regular season" second in points. They are going back to eight tracks they have already raced on this season, and I believe he has the highest average finish at those eight tracks. Will he win it? Who knows, but he seems to have just a good a chance as anybody this year.
• arrogantespncommenter8 -- To win the Chase, you gotta win races. Junebug hasn't done enough of that, period.
• mikesportsfan8 -- contender without a doubt. he leads the series in top 10s, and by far has been the most consistent driver. junoir has not had his best runs in the last couple races, but he locked himself in at bristol and the team has probably been experimenting a little bit. as long as junior continues to roll off those top 10's and top 5's (he has more 4th place finishes this year than i've ever seen), he will certainly be in position to win. lets not forget, edwards would have won last year without a miracle run by stewart. consistency is stil the name of the game
• Cool_Hand_8 -- Of course Dale Jr. is a contender. He made the Chase, didn't he? In all seriousness, he has been very consistent this year and that is what it takes. A win or two is probably needed and he can do it with this team. This is ultimately his best chance since 2004 and I think He will be one of three drivers to beat (Johnson and Hamlin) in this Chase!
8SportMan -- Jr. has been good but look at this stat. JJ had 5 DNFs and still only finished a handful of points behind Jr who only has 1 DNF. The guy has gotta be more dominant in the chase if he wants a legit shot at the trophy.
• Spade Racing -- Virtually every Chase Championship winner has posted at least one bad race (wreck, engine, horrible set-up, etc.). Things have been going VERY well for Dale Jr. this year. How will he react to the inevitable bad run, especially if it comes early? If he can put it behind him and rally the following week, he'll be fine.
• Trident60 -- Jr. is definitely a contender. Whoever says "no" hasn't been watching the entire season. I also think "winning" is emphasized way to much. Stewart was awarded the championship last year because of wins, sure. But it's important to remember that the end result was a tie. One position better or worse for either guy, possibly a lap lead at a track either of them didn't and the championship winner is no longer due to a tie breaker. In my opinion, while Stewart won the championship last year, what his wins ultimate did was keep him in the title hunt. Of course NASCAR and the media are going to say you have to win in the Chase to win the championship. Suppose to add "excitement". But consistency is still key, and if Jr. can reel off top fives throughout the ten races he'll be in contention if not the favorite to win it.
• d0re -- He's certainly a contender. I put him in the second tier of Chase drivers behind Keselowski, Hamlin, and Johnson because I think Jr. will be within striking distance of the lead for most of the Chase but ultimately fall out of contention before Homestead. I look for him to end up 4th or 5th this year -- a solid effort but not a championship effort.
• HurricaneHamlin -- Earnhardt, Jr. is definitely a championship contender, but he will have to parlay some of his top five runs into wins to be a serious championship contender as the 48 and 11 teams are.
• michelinmike88 -- Jr. Has been as consistent as any others. If anything he has an edge considering all of his accomplishments this season,which stands as a momentum boost. He has a tough row to hoe, but yes he's a contender.
• billipsj -- Yes Jr and crew have been one of the more consistent teams this season he then took over the points lead and then began to slide. It is a 10 race shoot out and anything can happen but to call him a true contender as of right now I can't and won't. I do think he has come a long way as a driver he is more involved with the car setup and preparation he is just not one of the true wheelmen in the sport. I would not be disappointed if he won the thing but I will put my money on his shop mate.
• dummerenmost -- Any of the 12 in the Chase can get on a roll and win it all much as Tony did last season. It will take multiple wins however and Jr will need to "AMP" it up!
• Jason89654 -- I think jr could very be a contender, but he can be inconsistent at times.
• More on ESPN Conversations.