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Is points leader Earnhardt feeling overlooked?

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JENNA FRYER | April 2, 2013 05:42 PM EST | AP


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Overlooked in all the drama at California two weeks ago was the new driver at the top of the Sprint Cup standings.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn't mind one bit.

NASCAR's most popular driver is quietly off to the best start of his career and took over the top spot in the standings at California. He said Tuesday he doesn't deserve any attention just yet because he hasn't accomplished anything.

Although he's got five top-10 finishes in the first five races this season, Earnhardt has only led laps once this year. And, he's yet to make it to Victory Lane.

"We're not winning races. I don't expect to get much attention until we can win races," he said. "We should run better. We finished well, but I think there are a lot of areas we can improve. Being out of the scope and out of the spotlight, we can pay more attention to how we can get better as a team."

Still, Earnhardt is the only driver this year to finish inside the top 10 in each of the first five races and he heads into this weekend's race at Martinsville with a 12-point lead over defending Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski.

Martinsville can be a huge test for his Hendrick Motorsports team. Although he enjoys NASCAR's shortest track, he's never won at the Virginia paper clip and had a miserable debut there, when he hit everything in sight, including the ambulance.

"I remember the first several races I ran there, I ran into everything. I ran into other race cars, walls, pace cars," Earnhardt said. "Just about everything that could be ran into, I found it."

Earnhardt has 14 top-10 finishes in 26 starts at Martinsville, including two runner-up finishes.