Chase Seed No. 4: Dale Earnhardt Jr

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Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s transition to Hendrick Motorsports has to be considered a success.

He has won a race, ending a more than two-year winless streak in the process, and stayed among the top of the points standings for the entire regular season.

And Junior has made the Chase, giving him an opportunity to win his first Sprint Cup title.

But there's still much unfinished business for the No. 88 team ahead and Earnhardt knows he can't rest on what was acoomplished in the year's first 26 races.

"I think it's really up to whoever works the hardest and gets the most figured out, has the best cars at the end," Earnhardt, Jr. said. "I mean, Carl (Edwards) and Kyle (Busch) are probably the favorites and probably got the best odds right now. But I think that we feel pretty confident that we can win."

So on the doorstep of kicking off the 10-race playoff season Sunday in New Hampshire, what is Earnhardt Jr.'s hopes?

"Win as many races as I can, and win the championship. I'd love to win the championship walking away -- you know, go into Homestead with it clinched already," he said.

"I don't think there is such a thing as having a game plan in racing. You try to strategize, but really that evolves throughout the race."

Earnhardt, Jr. will have some company in the Chase with his Hendrick teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon also running for the title.

That could be either an advantage or a hinderence, depending on your point of view.

"Well, I'm hoping to lean on them when I can to improve our car's ability and performance," Earnhardt said. "You know, to take advantage of their experience and their success of the past couple years and this company's success. That's really why I'm here to begin with. Just making the most out of that opportunity."

"I'd rather have them on my side where I can lean on them and know a little bit about what they've got going on and what they're doing and what's working for them."

With his spot in the Chase now in hand some wonder whether the pressure is off Earnhardt some and that his driving style will change from what it was as the regular season wound down.

"I don't think they're going to see me drive any differently," he said. "We've been doing the best we can do, and hopefully -- the only thing that we need is to get our cars a little bit better and have the best race car out there. That's the deal."

Chase Contenders
No. 5 - Clint Bowyer
No. 6 - Denny Hamlin
No. 7 - Jeff Burton
No. 8 - Tony Stewart
No. 9 - Greg Biffle
No. 10 - Jeff Gordon
No. 11 - Kevin Harvick
No. 12 - Matt Kenseth

Photos

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