Dale Earnhardt Jr. went into the the final 10 races of the 2010 Sprint Cup season with a simple plan: Treat them as glorified test sessions in the hope of discovering a setup that he can use in his number 88 Chevy in 2011. So far, so good. On Sunday, Earnhardt (below) finished fourth—his best result since another fourth at Daytona on July 3. Earnhardt is in the throes of perhaps the worst season of his 11-year Cup career—he's currently 18th in the standings—but his team owner, Rick Hendrick, has said repeatedly that Earnhardt will stay with crew chief Lance McGrew in '11. "This year has been tough, but I do see signs of hope," says Earnhardt. "I feel like me and Lance are developing something special. We're getting closer to where we want to be."