If Dale Jr. had wanted to avoid comparison' to his legendary father, he didn't do himself any favors by winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship in 1998. With the 1999 season came loftier expectations and a much larger audience. The start to the season was not storybook. After a lukewarm 14th-place finish at Daytona, he crashed and finished 35th at Rockingham despite starting on the pole. After winning seven races the year before, Dale Jr. went through the first 14 events of the 1999 season winless. It wasn't until Dover on June 5, 1999, that Junior broke free and scored his first win of the year. It ignited a three-week tear in which he followed suit with victories at South Boston and Watkins Glen, his first road-course win. The momentum of a midseason surge led to six victories total in '99 to go with 18 top-fives and 22 top-10s. Junior completed more laps than he did the previous year (6,231 to 6,055) but led less than half of the total he compiled in 1998 (725 to 1,615). In the end, it was enough to outlast Jeff Green (-280) and Matt Kenseth (-320) in the points race.