After a career-defining win at Texas in only the seventh race of the 1998 season, the floodgates opened. Dale Jr. proceeded to drive the No. 3 AC Delco Chevrolet to seven victories, 16 top-fives, 22 top-10s, and three poles to give his father's company, Dale Earnhardt Inc., its first championship. Junior's wins came at Texas (4/4), Dover (5/30), Milwaukee (7/5), Fontana (7/19), Indianapolis Raceway Park (7/31), Richmond (9/11), and Gateway (10/17). Of his 6,055 laps completed in '98, Junior led 1,615 of them (27%). The title hunt was a two-horse race between Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth. Kenseth had only three wins to Junior's seven but boasted more top fives and top 10s. In the end, Dale Jr. beat Kenseth by a mere 48 points. A whopping 428 points separated Kenseth from third-place finisher Mike McLaughlin.