Dale Earnhardt Jr. ready to go all ‘hard and crazy’ at Charlotte Saturday night

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 10:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

CHARLOTTE, NC – OCTOBER 10: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in trouble.  NASCAR’s most popular driver has had a great season; he won the season opening Daytona 500 and added two more wins this year, his best season since 2004 and without a doubt his best since joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2008. He entered NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup, the sport’s version of a championship playoff, as one of the top seeds.  But now, four races into the 10 race Chase, Earnhardt is facing the very real possibility that he will be eliminated and miss out on his first opportunity to secure a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.

It seems that the magic Earnhardt and his Hendrick Motorsports team led by crew chief Steve Letarte had found this season has worn off.   Earnhardt’s best finish inside the Chase was a 9th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  Beyond that he’s had finishes of 11th and 17th. Last week was another disappointing outing. While leading at Kansas Speedway, a tire blew on Earnhardt’s Chevy sending him into the wall, to the garage and leaving him with a 39th place finish.

Earnhardt comes into Charlotte Motor Speedway needing a near miracle to advance to the next round of NASCAR’s new championship format. Instead of being down though, Earnhardt is looking forward to Saturday night’s Bank of America 500.

“I’m really excited actually,” Earnhardt said prior to qualifying at Charlotte Friday. MORE>>>

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