BROOKLYN, MI - JUNE 17: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew/TheDarkKnightRises/National Guard/ Chevrolet, and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, lead a pack during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 17, 2012 in Brooklyn, Michigan. Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR/AFP

Dale Earnhardt Junior, the most popular driver in the most popular American auto racing series, snapped a four-year win drought on Sunday by capturing a 400-mile (640km) oval race in Michigan.

Earnhardt, whose late father, a legend known as The Intimidator, was killed in a crash at the Daytona 500, had gone 143 races without a win before taking the US stock car feature event at Michigan International Speedway.

He had not won a round of the closed-cockpit Nascar series since June 2008, when he won at the same Michigan track.

After a two-hour rain delay, the race began and saw Earnhardt lead 96 laps. He crossed the finish line 5.4 seconds ahead of fellow American and defending series champion Tony Stewart to claim his 19th career win.

Matt Kenseth, the season points leader, finished third to stay on top of the standings but Earnhardt closed to within four points of him. - AFP