Dale Earnhardt Jr. makes the Chase after 12th place Finish at Bristol

By Chris Creighton

Dale Earnhardt Jr. clinches his spot in the 2012 Sprint Cup Chase to the Championship. Earnhardt finished Saturday night’s bull ring in Bristol and brought his silver Diet Mountain Dew #88 Hendrick Chevy to a solid 12th place finish.

Junior, NASCAR‘s fan favorite, was able to stay out of most of the beating and banging that left some drivers with very hot tempers as several drivers were taking bigger chances at Bristol Motor Speedway as time clicks down to Richmond. With the feeling of “The Wild Card”, some drivers feel bold moves are going to be their only way into the Chase for the Cup.

Dale knew very early how good his car was,“We had a real good strategy and a real fast car. We made a little mistake coming down pit road there at the end (entering the pits when it was closed). I don’t know what we were thinking. We can’t make those mistakes too often. But we had a fast car, especially at the start of the race. We just lost track position and couldn’t get by some guys at the end. I had fun though. I’m not sure what the fans thought about the race, but I really enjoyed myself. I hope they enjoyed it. The folks that didn’t come, they missed a good one.”

Dale Earnhardt only has one win this season at Michigan International Speedway back on Father’s Day, but has had one of his better seasons in his 12 year career. Sitting 3rd in the championship points, Junior expects to let it all hang out until Richmond and try to get into victory lane at least one more time before the chase starts.

Junior on making the chase:  “This feels really good. We’ve worked hard all season. I have to thank my guys, they do a good job every week. It’s nice to get our spot clinched and not have to sweat it too much in these next few races. We know what that’s like going into Richmond not locked in. We know we have some work to do, but it’s good to be locked in.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has never finished better than 3rd in the championship back in 2003. He is having a very similar season all most matching his career highs in top 10’s and top 5’s in a season.

Earnhardt, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth are the only drivers to clinch their place in the Chase thus far. This season marks the fifth time in Earnhardt’s career that he has qualified for the Chase (2004, 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2012) and the first time he has made the Chase in consecutive seasons.

Make sure you follow Chris Creighton on Twitter @nascar28_chris and read his NASCAR articles on RantSports.com

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