Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Rankings NASCAR's Chase for the Championship Performances

The Best and Worst of the Chase
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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Vito Pugliese ranks NASCAR's eight Chase for the Championship playoff performances. From the unbelievable to the forgettable, they're all here.</p>
2012

In 2003, Matt Kenseth became the final Winston Cup Champion in less-than-dazzling fashion. He won all of one of 36 races while posting 24 top 10s for an average finishing position of 10.2. He clinched the title by merely starting the second to last race of the year at Rockingham. After promptly blowing an engine and finishing dead last, he ended the year 90 points ahead of Jimmie Johnson, and 207 ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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NASCAR News & Notes of the Week

Michael Waltrip Racing renaissance continues
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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long takes a spin around the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit with Michael Waltrip Racing's Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr.</p>
2012

The race shop was once a movie theatre. The team’s finances proved as stable as a house of cards. No surprise that one of NASCAR’s biggest dreamers was the owner.

Five years later, Michael Waltrip’s team is in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup for the first time. Michael Waltrip Racing brings an intriguing mix with drivers Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr., who both have shown the ability to string several strong races together this season.

NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

Hamlin, Johnson, Keselowski lead field into Chase
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<p> As NASCAR's regular season comes to a close, Denny Hamlin edges by Jimmie Johnson to take the top spot in Athlon Sports' weekly Horsepower Rankings.</p>
2012

1. Denny Hamlin   Hamlin slips ahead of Jimmie Johnson thanks to having the strongest car for a third consecutive week (despite the fact he didn’t win). He also gets a hat tip for those four regular season victories. Last week: 2

10 Great NASCAR Moments at Richmond

NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

Hamlin, Johnson, Keselowski separate from the pack
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<p> Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski challenge Jimmie Johnson for the top spot in Athlon Sports' weekly Horsepower Rankings.</p>
2012

1. Jimmie Johnson  Denny Hamlin may be the hottest driver on the Cup circuit at the moment, but Johnson’s team will still be the one everyone keeps an eye on going into the Chase.

2. Denny Hamlin  Became the first driver since Tony Stewart in last season’s playoffs to score consecutive wins on the Cup circuit, with victories at Bristol and Atlanta. This is not the Denny Hamlin of 2011, folks.

Pennell’s Picks: Fantasy NASCAR Trends at Atlanta

Jay Pennell looks at favorites and darkhorses for Sunday's AdvoCare 500
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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Jay Pennell looks at fantasy NASCAR favorites and darkhorses for Sunday's AdvoCare 500 from Atlanta Motor Speedway.</p>
2012

Coming off another exciting race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads south to Atlanta Motor Speedway for this weekend's AdvoCare 500. Only two races remain before the Chase for the Cup gets underway in Chicago, and if the past few weeks are any indication of things to come, you better hold on a lot tighter than Tony Stewart holds onto one of his helmets.

NASCAR News & Notes of the Week

Biffle, Earnhardt, Stewart and Truex making Cup Series news
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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long takes a spin around the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this week with Greg Biffle, Dale Earnahrdt Jr., Tony Stewart and Martin Truex Jr.</p>
2012

Greg Biffle credits an aggressive approach with his team’s return to the points lead and says once NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup starts, there won’t be any backing down.

Biffle regained the points lead after his victory at Michigan and held it despite finishing 19th last weekend at Bristol. That finish was good enough to clinch a Chase spot and return him to NASCAR’s playoffs after missing it last year.

Pennell’s Picks: Fantasy NASCAR Trends at Bristol

Jay Pennell looks at favorites and darkhorses for the Bristol Night Race
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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Jay Pennell looks at favorites and darkhorses for Saturday's Bristol Night Race NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Bristol Motor Speedway.</p>
2012

The Race for the Chase is heating up and after two weeks of late-race drama the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Thunder Valley for the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

When the series hits the high-banks, it will be on a much different racing surface than the drivers have been accustomed to over the past few seasons. After the 2007 reconfiguration of the track, progressive banking was added in the corners, allowing for multiple grooves and two- and three-wide racing.

NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

Johnson, Keselowski in frenzied battle for supremacy
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<p> Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski are in a frenzied battle for supremacy of Athlon Sports' weekly Horsepower Rankings. Could this be a preview of the NASCAR Sprint Cup title battle?&nbsp;</p>
2012

1. Jimmie Johnson  Loses a second one in three weeks in heartbreaking fashion. That may derail some teams, but with the 48, you get the feeling it only makes them more determined.

2. Brad Keselowski  Keselowski and the boys are rounding into form nicely, with seven consecutive runs of ninth or better. They’re going to be a handful at Bristol this weekend.

Greg Biffle Wins Michigan

Jimmie Johnson blows engine late, hands win to Biffle in Michigan
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<p> Greg Biffle took advantage of Jimmie Johnson's blown engine in the waning laps of the Pure Michigan 400 to notch his second win of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.</p>
2012

Neither Greg Biffle nor team owner Jack Roush is unaccustomed to visiting Victory Lane at Michigan International Speedway. So it was no surprise that the duo ended up spraying champagne following Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 Sprint Cup race. What was a surprise were the circumstances that landed them there.

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