Sep 7, 2013, 1:20 PM EDT
Back-to-back Top-10 finishes at Bristol (10th) and Atlanta (eighth) has allowed Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to breathe a little bit in regards to making the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He only has to finish 32nd or better to clinch a spot in the post-season tonight at Richmond International Raceway.
A big problem at RIR could still keep him from making the post-season, but as he indicated on Thursday, his timely efforts in the last two events has him confident enough that he can just focus on the race itself.
“It’s just a normal weekend to me,” he said. “Fortunate enough we’ve had enough good runs over the last couple weeks to put ourselves in this situation, not have to be nervous or worried.
“It wasn’t much fun over the last couple weeks having to make sure we didn’t make any mistakes and give up too many points to the guys behind us.”
After finishes of 30th and 36th at Watkins Glen and Michigan respectively, Earnhardt slipped to seventh in the Sprint Cup standings. But he’s been able to stop his descent, and enters Richmond tonight with a 37-point cushion over 11th place.
Still, it hasn’t been an easy month for Earnhardt, fretting over the big picture and trying to keep his year from unraveling. It’s been a marked contrast to last year, which saw him manage to clinch his Chase spot with two races to go in the regular season.
“I definitely understood last year when we were set, locked in, that it was a much easier ride, much more enjoyable,” he said. “The last couple weeks have been pretty stressful from a points standpoint.
“[It's] difficult for you because you have to focus so much on those points. You have to focus on all those guys – that handful, half a dozen guys – that are around you in points, wonder what they’re doing. You can’t help it.”
But with a Chase spot in sight, Earnhardt believes that he and his Hendrick Motorsports team can be a contender in the ten-race stretch.
However, they’re not in just yet. And with tonight sure to be pressure-packed for everyone trying to keep their championship hopes alive, Earnhardt seems to think that patience will be necessary on his part during the race.
“There are guys in there that aren’t going to make the Chase, aren’t too happy about their situation, going to have some pretty short fuses out there,” he said. “You don’t want to rough up anybody. You want to take your time getting around some of these guys.”
Aug 1, 2014, 11:34 AM EDT
Multi-motorsports team owner Chip Ganassi will be honored August 7 in Corning, N.Y., for more than a quarter-century of contributions to the auto racing world.
Aug 1, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT
Austin Dillon isn’t skating through his rookie season in Sprint Cup. Everything he achieves, he earns. But Dillon did try skating of a different kind and took to it like a natural.
Aug 1, 2014, 11:07 AM EDT
The American goes P1 with a lap of 1 minute, 6.5316 seconds in the No. 28 Andretti Autosport Honda.
Aug 1, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
We grade the eleven teams for their seasons so far as F1 embarks on its summer break.
Aug 1, 2014, 10:10 AM EDT
Should NASCAR consider shifting to a format that features timed races instead of hundreds of miles or laps? Let’s get your take in our poll.
Aug 1, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT
Brazilian driver confident that tracks such as Spa, Monza and the Circuit of the Americas will suit the FW36 car.
Aug 1, 2014, 9:15 AM EDT
The DeltaWing team makes new shop upgrades as it plans for the future.
Aug 1, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Sauber driver believes the sport would benefit from more running outside of a grand prix weekend.
Aug 1, 2014, 8:15 AM EDT
Mike Conway will make long-awaited Toyota debut in FIA WEC at Austin next race.
Aug 1, 2014, 7:45 AM EDT
Inside joke goes a bit too far for NASCAR ahead of truck race in Pocono this weekend.
Aug 1, 2014, 7:30 AM EDT
Force India owner confident of battling with Williams, Ferrari and McLaren until the end of the season.
Jul 31, 2014, 9:11 PM EDT
The Acura TLX-GT will make its debut at Mid-Ohio, later than planned but still on Honda’s home weekend.
Jul 31, 2014, 5:48 PM EDT
More analysis on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s new crew chief, Greg Ives, took center stage on Thursday’s NASCAR AMERICA on NBCSN.
Jul 31, 2014, 4:59 PM EDT
Thursday’s NASCAR AMERICA lineup…
Jul 31, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
Malaysian FIA Formula E round moves from October to November to accommodate prime minister’s wishes.
Jul 31, 2014, 2:32 PM EDT
Ryan Hunter-Reay and Simon Pagenaud look to make headway on Team Penske teammates, while Chip Ganassi Racing seeks a six-pack of Mid-Ohio wins this weekend.
Jul 31, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT
Anthony Richardson bills himself as the Bad British Commentator, and it definitely shows through here with his malapropisms and complete lack of understanding of the sport and world of NASCAR.
Jul 31, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
There may not be wholesale changes, based upon what NASCAR chairman Brian France said recently, but next year’s Sprint Cup schedule will look different. Based upon various sources and things we’ve heard and/or read, we’re going to chime in with our ideas and why we think that way.
Jul 31, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
With six qualifying races left, a total of 10 more spots remain to be clinched to fill out the expanded 16-driver playoff field for this year’s 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Jul 31, 2014, 11:54 AM EDT
Legendary NASCAR driver Mark Martin is returning to Roush Fenway Racing. But don’t expect Martin, 55, to get back behind the wheel any time soon.