Despite costly mistake Dale Earnhardt Jr. clinches spot in Chase

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a costly pit stop Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. (Getty Images)

It wasn’t the type of outcome Dale Earnhardt Jr. hoped for in Saturday night’s Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, but a 12th place finish was good enough to lock NASCAR’s most popular driver in the season ending Chase for the Sprint Cup.

The trouble began early for Earnhardt. After starting 16th, he was penalized for speeding on pit road on lap 89 and sent to the tail end of the longest line on the restart. He was able to overcome that penalty though and using pit strategy was able to take the lead on lap 193.

Earnhardt held the lead until lap 206 when eventual race winner Denny Hamlin wrestled past him for the top spot. Earnhardt was able to hold onto to second until he pitted during a caution on lap 224. In the ensuing laps Earnhardt remained in position to contend in the closing stages. On lap 346 however, his hopes for a win were dashed by a mistake of his own doing. MORE>>>

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