Ready for the Chase


Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet, talks with Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, during a rain delay during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 8, 2012 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images for NASCAR)

RICHMOND, Va. — If you didn’t pay much attention to Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s performance last Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, you weren’t alone. Earnhardt struggled early and wasn’t a factor in the outcome of the race.

However, to crew chief Steve Letarte, the performance of the No. 88 team — from the driver to the crew on pit road — had enormous significance.

“We got down early, we were running in the 20s, and we came back to finish seventh,” Letarte told the NASCAR Wire Service on Saturday. “We proved last week that this team is ready for the Chase. No one is going to have 10 great races in the Chase, so it’s what you do with the days that aren’t great that makes the difference.”


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