Even if Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his #88 team continue to improve their performances, Earnhardt concedes that qualifying of the Chase for the Sprint Cup will be a difficult proposition.

"We have quite a ways to go to be able make the Chase," said Earnhardt, currently 19th in the Cup standings, 285 points behind 12th-place Juan Pablo Montoya. "We're still mathematically in it, but we're not trying to catch just one guy we're 200-and-some points behind.

"We're trying to catch four or five guys, and it's unrealistic to expect all those guys to have enough trouble, and for us to top-ten 'em to death ain't going to get it done. We've got to run better, and even though we have improved, it seems, we still need to get better. To be able to drive up into the top three last week (at New Hampshire) was a lot of fun, but we need to be able to stay there once we get there.

"Making the Chase is the goal, but at the end of the year, when you're done racing at Homestead, and you run the last lap and you get out of the car, what kind of feeling do you want to have? The one I want to have is that we fixed it, that we've got something that we can feel good about and work on and get all our stuff ready for next year."

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News