Earnhardt Jr. leads disappointed Hendrick drivers eliminated from Chase

Dale Earnhardt Jr. spins late in the race Sunday at Talladega. (Getty Images)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. spins late in the race Sunday at Talladega. (Getty Images)

For a time Sunday it looked as though two of the drivers needing to race their way into the next round of the Chase would accomplish that task, or at least have a pretty good shot at doing so. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson needed nothing short of a win to advance to the next round of NASCAR’s championship Chase and avoid elimination.  As the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway got underway, all appeared positive.

Johnson started second, and by the first lap was in the lead.  Earnhardt started 28th but before lap 10 he was in sixth.  Johnson lost the lead but on lap 15 was back on point; three laps later Earnhardt was in second.  The pair had a lock on the front of the field swapping the lead past the halfway point.

As the race neared its finish, it looked as though Johnson would score the win having led the most laps, 84, while Earnhardt remained in touch having led the second most laps, 31. It all came apart in the final chaotic dash to the end however.

Five laps from the end Johnson led but was battling Ryan Newman.MORE>>>

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