After earlier trouble, Austin Dillon gets caught up again in an incident, this time with the No. 32 of Steve Arpin .
Veteran: Saturday at Chicagoland 'was awful,' must improve as Chase goes on RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Dale Earnhardt Jr. got off to a solid, but not spectacular start in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup's Challenger Round at Chicagoland Speedway . Earnhardt spent most of the afternoon in the top 10, ran some of the day in the top five but came away with an 11th-place finish. The finish itself may have left a little to be desired, but what bugged Junior was the No. 88 team's struggles in practice. Talking on "The Dale Jr. Download" as part of Dirty Mo Radio , Earnhardt lamented the fact the team couldn't find a rhythm in practice. "To be honest, Saturday was awful," Earnhardt said. "We weren't anywhere we needed to be. We were about two-tenths off of the guys that I thought were going to run well. Two-tenths is a chunk of time, so I was getting very worried." Junior finished in ninth in the second practice, but dropped to 26th in final practice. "The third and final practice we had all kinds of problems with the engine and the spark plug. And then we went out there and preceded to stink it up and run all kinds of terrible laps." For the owner of three wins in 2014, Earnhardt sounded a bit frustrated with the practice struggles. "We don't practice well. We never do but we always race well. Even if we practice decent, I know it's going to be a great race. Because we always race just fine. We just don't practice, don't qualify well. I don't know why that is. Wish I had an answer for you but trust me, it's an unpleasant experience to have to struggle through practice and worry whether that's a reflection of how the race is going to go." Earnhardt praised crew chief Steve Letarte and the team's engineers for the work they did from the end of Saturday's final practice to the start of Sunday's MyAFibStory.com 400 and is hopeful he can have a good feeling all weekend long next time out. "I want it to be good on Saturday. I want to run Saturday and go, 'Man we got a nice car, we got a good car.' " Earnhardt will enter this weekend's second race of the Challenger Round, the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET, ESPN), in fifth place in the standings. In 30 starts at the Magic Mile, Earnhardt has seven top-five finishes and 13 top-10 finishes. In the summer race at Loudon, Earnhardt earned a 10th-place finish. That type of result would serve Junior well in the Challenger Round, but he knows more is needed as the Chase goes on. "Maybe this first round we can get by with finishing 11th, but Round 2 you are not going to make it. I know that. We need to improve a little bit there." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Four-time series champion has his eyes on NASCAR's most coveted prize RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota The question, broached before the season even began, hasn't gone away and maybe that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, if folks want to talk about winning the championship and potential retirement in the same breath, well, that's not all bad. Not when you're Jeff Gordon and you haven't really been in the title picture in more than a decade. There are far worse questions out there. What's wrong with your team? Why didn't you make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup? Will you be back with the team next year? Fortunately for the 43-year-old, such questions have rarely, if ever, been asked. But retirement? Yeah, it comes up from time to time. And with the Hendrick Motorsports driver back in the title picture, it makes for good copy. One of the sport's greatest drivers has chance to win title, and sail off into the sunset hoisting a fifth championship trophy. There's only one problem. Gordon isn't buying the retirement part. Or selling it, for that matter. "The majority of my focus is on winning the championship," Gordon said last week in Chicago, before this year's 10-race Chase got under way. Easing off the throttle? Not now. Not as long as his back holds out, his team continues to perform at its current level and Gordon keeps finding a way to get back to Victory Lane. "I was asked 'would you consider it?' and I said I would because I think it’'an exciting way to end a career – to go out on top," Gordon said. "But at the same time, I'm having too much fun. I'm enjoying myself too much. My back is doing well and I don't see any reason to quit anytime soon." One of the favorites in this year's championship run, Gordon admits it’s been "a long time, too long" since he won his fourth, and to date, last title. That was in 2001, 13 years ago. He turned 30 earlier that summer. No one expected the domination, which included 58 wins at that point, to slow anytime soon. But it did. That he's back in the title picture, and a legitimate contender, he said, has as much to do with those around him as the driver himself. "We haven't had a team like this since 2001," Gordon said. "In '07 we were close; '04 we were close but I don't think we ever really had this type of momentum, this kind of chemistry since we won our last championship. "And you know … that's what it takes to win the championship. Who we've been up against, they've had that. We've got that back this year and that's why I'm really excited about our chances." He's seen others go through similar circumstances. Former teammate Terry Labonte went 12 years in between winning championships in 1984 and 1996. In fact, Labonte's chief competition in his final title run was none other than Gordon. "He's one of my heroes," Gordon said. "I would love to do something similar to what Terry has done. I raced against him in that '96 season when he won that championship and his experience, his calmness, the Iceman (persona), he blew me away that year with his ability to really just stay so consistent and strong and pull off that win. "So I've got firsthand experience to see a guy that hasn’t done it in a long time get it done." Gordon has finished in the top five of the final standings on five occasions since his last championship, including the runner-up in '07. But as he noted, it's only been recently that he felt his team had the tools and the chemistry to be considered a legitimate threat. The key players from '01 are still around, although most of the support staff has scattered here and there. Steve Letarte, wrapping up a final year as crew chief with Hendrick driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. , was a part of Gordon’s title-winning efforts in '97 and '98 as the team’s tire specialist. In '01, he was a mechanic as well as the team’s rear-tire carrier. Chad Knaus, who would go on to lead Jimmie Johnson to six titles, was a part of the crew that won the title in '95 and '97 as well, but had departed by the time Gordon won No. 4 in '01. Johnson, Knaus and the 48 team are seen as one of Gordon's chief opponents for this year's crown. The wait for Johnson to try and add to his championship total has been brief. Barely 10 months ago he was celebrating a sixth title. For Gordon, it's been years. "That was a long time ago," Gordon said of his '01 title run. "The only thing I remember that reminds me of this year is having confidence in myself and the team, enjoying what we are doing and knowing we have a shot at winning races each and every weekend." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
See the entry list for the Nationwide Series' final standalone of the season RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Entry No. Driver Owner Crew chief Vehicle Sponsor 1 01 Landon Cassill Johnny Davis Dave Fuge 14 Chevrolet TeamJDMotorsports.com 2 2 Brian Scott Richard Childress Phil Gould 14 Chevrolet Shore Lodge 3 3 Ty Dillon Richard Childress Danny Stockman Jr 14 Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops 4 4 Jeffrey Earnhardt Gary Keller Gary Cogswell 14 Chevrolet Bandit 5 5 Austin Theriault Rick Hendrick Ernie Cope 14 Chevrolet Maine Open for Business 6 6 Trevor Bayne Jack Roush Chad Norris 14 Ford AdvoCare 7 7 Regan Smith Kelley Earnhardt-Miller Ryan Pemberton 14 Chevrolet TaxSlayer.com 8 9 Chase Elliott Dale Earnhardt Jr Greg Ives 14 Chevrolet NAPA AUTO PARTS 9 10 Jeff Green Mark Smith Todd Myers 14 Toyota Supportmilitary.org 10 11 Elliott Sadler J D Gibbs Chris Gayle 14 Toyota OneMain Financial 11 13 Carl Long Derek White Kevin Eagle 13 Dodge OCR GAZ BAR 12 14 Eric McClure Mark Smith Wes Ward 14 Toyota Hefty Ultimate / Reynolds Wrap 13 16 Ryan Reed Jack Roush Seth Barbour 14 Ford ADA Drive to Stop Diabetes presented by Lilly Diabetes 14 17 Tanner Berryhill Adrian Berryhill Daniel Stillman 14 Dodge NationalCashLenders.com 15 19 Mike Bliss Mark Smith Paul Clapprood 14 Toyota TriStar Motorsports 16 20 Justin Boston(i) Joe Gibbs Kevin Kidd 14 Toyota Zloop 17 22 Michael McDowell(i) Roger Penske Jeremy Bullins 14 Ford Discount Tire 18 23 Carlos Contreras Robert Richardson Sr George Church 14 Chevrolet 28 Special/Vol 19 28 J J Yeley James Whitener Steve Plattenberger 13 Dodge Texas 28 Spirits Stage 20 31 Chase Pistone(i) Steve Turner Shannon Rursch 14 Chevrolet TDB 21 33 Cale Conley(i) Richard Childress Nick Harrison 14 Chevrolet IAVA 22 39 Ryan Sieg Rod Sieg Kevin Starland 14 Chevrolet RSS Racing 23 40 Matt Dibenedetto Curtis Key Sr Gary Showalter 14 Chevrolet Curtis Key Plumbing 24 42 Dylan Kwasniewski Harry Scott Jr Scott Zipadelli 14 Chevrolet Up & Up 25 43 Dakoda Armstrong Richard Petty Philippe Lopez 14 Ford WinField 26 44 Blake Koch Mark Smith Greg Conner 14 Toyota Centershot 27 46 Josh Wise(i) Curtis Key Sr Gary Showalter 14 Chevrolet Curtis Key Plumbing 28 51 Jeremy Clements Tony Clements Ricky Pearson 14 Chevrolet Allsouthelectric.com/Value Lighting 29 52 Joey Gase Jimmy Means Tim Brown 14 Chevrolet TBA 30 54 Sam Hornish Jr J D Gibbs Adam Stevens 14 Toyota Monster Energy 31 55 Jamie Dick Jimmy Dick Mark Setzer 14 Chevrolet Viva Auto Group 32 60 Chris Buescher Jack Roush Scott Graves 14 Ford Roush Performance Parts 33 62 Brendan Gaughan Richard Childress Shane Wilson 14 Chevrolet South Point 34 70 Derrike Cope Mary Louise Miller Bobby Burrell 14 Chevrolet YOUTHEORY 35 172 John Jackson James Carter Richard Garcia 14 Chevrolet Crash Claims R US 36 74 TBA Mike Harmon Scott Stolzenberg 12 Dodge TBA 37 180 Ross Chastain(i) Shigeaki Hattori Bruce Cook 14 Toyota ADVICS/CMW 38 87 Joe Nemechek(i) Andrea Nemechek Steven Gray 14 Ford TBD 39 89 Morgan Shepherd Morgan Shepherd Kevyn Rebolledo 14 Chevrolet Courtney Construction 40 93 Mike Wallace Gregg Mixon David Goulet 13 Dodge JGL Racing 41 99 James Buescher Robby Benton Matthew Lucas 14 Toyota TBA (i) equals ineligible for driver championship points MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
See which drivers will run at the Sprint Cup Series' second stop at Loudon RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Entry # Driver Owner Crew chief Manufacturer Sponsor 1 1 Jamie McMurray Felix Sabates Keith Rodden 14 Chevrolet Belkin/WEMO 2 2 Brad Keselowski Roger Penske Paul Wolfe 14 Ford Miller Lite 3 3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Gil Martin 14 Chevrolet Cheerios 4 4 Kevin Harvick Tony Stewart Rodney Childers 14 Chevrolet Budweiser Designate a Driver 5 5 Kasey Kahne Linda Hendrick Kenny Francis 14 Chevrolet Time Warner Cable 6 7 Michael Annett Tommy Baldwin Kevin Manion 14 Chevrolet Feed the Children Chevrolet 7 9 Marcos Ambrose Richard Petty Drew Blickensderfer 14 Ford STANLEY 8 10 Danica Patrick Tony Stewart Tony Gibson 14 Chevrolet GoDaddy 9 11 Denny Hamlin J D Gibbs Darian Grubb 14 Toyota FedEx Ground 10 13 Casey Mears Bob Germain Bootie Barker III 14 Chevrolet No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS 11 14 Tony Stewart Margaret Haas Chad Johnston 14 Chevrolet Code 3 Associates / Mobil 1 12 15 Clint Bowyer Rob Kauffman Brian Pattie 14 Toyota 5-Hour Energy 13 16 Greg Biffle Jack Roush Matt Puccia 14 Ford Ortho 14 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr John Henry Michael Kelley 14 Ford EcoPower Oil 15 18 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Dave Rogers 14 Toyota M&M's 16 20 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Jason Ratcliff 14 Toyota Dollar General 17 22 Joey Logano Walter Czarnecki Todd Gordon 14 Ford Shell Pennzoil 18 23 Alex Bowman Ron Devine Dave Winston 14 Toyota Dr. Pepper Toyota 19 24 Jeff Gordon Rick Hendrick Alan Gustafson 14 Chevrolet Drive To End Hunger 20 26 Cole Whitt Anthony Marlowe Randy Cox 14 Toyota Rinnai 21 27 Paul Menard Richard Childress Slugger Labbe 14 Chevrolet Sylvania / Menards 22 31 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Luke Lambert 14 Chevrolet Quicken Loans 23 32 Timmy Hill Frank Stoddard Jr Ben Leslie 14 Ford US Chrome 24 33 David Stremme Joe Falk Mike Hillman Jr 14 Chevrolet Little Joe's Autos 25 34 David Ragan Bob Jenkins Jay Guy 14 Ford TACO BELL 26 36 Reed Sorenson Allan Heinke Todd Parrott 14 Chevrolet American Muscle Driving Experience Chevrolet 27 38 David Gilliland Brad Jenkins Frank Kerr 14 Ford CLEAN HARBORS 28 40 Landon Cassill(i) Michael Hillman Mark Hillman 14 Chevrolet Snap Fitness 29 41 Kurt Busch Gene Haas Daniel Knost 14 Chevrolet Haas Automation 30 42 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Chris Heroy 14 Chevrolet Target 31 43 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Trent Owens 14 Ford Smithfield 32 47 A J Allmendinger Tad Geschickter Brian Burns 14 Chevrolet Bush's Beans 33 48 Jimmie Johnson Jeff Gordon Chad Knaus 14 Chevrolet Lowe's 34 51 Justin Allgaier Harry Scott Jr Steve Addington 14 Chevrolet PlanBSales.com 35 55 Brian Vickers Michael Waltrip Billy Scott 14 Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 36 66 Joe Nemechek(i) Jay Robinson Scott Eggleston 14 Toyota Land Castle Title 37 77 Corey Lajoie(i) Randy Humphrey Steve Lane 14 Ford Fochler Veterans Law 38 78 Martin Truex Jr Barney Visser Todd Berrier 14 Chevrolet Furniture Row 39 83 Ryan Truex Ron Devine Joe Williams 14 Toyota Burger King Toyota 40 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Rick Hendrick Steve Letarte 14 Chevrolet Diet Mountain Dew 41 93 Travis Kvapil Wayne Press Doug Richert 14 Toyota Iowa City Capital Partners Toyota 42 98 Josh Wise Mike Curb Gene Nead 14 Chevrolet Phil Parsons Racing 43 99 Carl Edwards Jack Roush James Fennig 14 Ford Aflac MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
The Truck Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway Entry # Driver Owner Crew chief Manufacturer Sponsor 1 00 Cole Custer Gene Haas Joe Shear 14 Chevrolet Haas Automation 2 0 Caleb Roark Kenneth Grimes Michael Stewart 12 RAM Driven2Honor.org 3 02 Tyler Young Randy Young Bryan Berry 14 Chevrolet Randco/Young's Building Systems 4 05 John Wes Townley Tony Townley Mike Beam 14 Toyota Zaxby's 5 6 Norm Benning Norm Benning Kevin Dargie 14 Chevrolet TBA 6 07 B J McLeod Ken Smith Rusty Ebersole 14 Chevrolet TBA 7 08 Ray Black Jr Bobby Dotter Jason Miller 14 Chevrolet ScubaLife 8 8 John Hunter Nemechek Sidney Mauldin Jerry Babb 14 Toyota Smoke-N-Sear/SWM 9 9 Brennan Newberry Joe Denette Ryan McKinney 14 Chevrolet Qore-24 10 10 Jennifer Jo Cobb Jennifer Jo Cobb Steve Kuykendall 13 Chevrolet Oohrah! Hydration Drink 11 13 Jeb Burton Duke Thorson Jeriod Prince 14 Toyota Estes-Carolina Nut Company 12 17 Timothy Peters Tom Deloach Marcus Richmond II 14 Toyota Red Horse Racing 13 19 Tyler Reddick Brad Keselowski Doug Randolph 14 Ford DrawTite 14 20 Gray Gaulding Bob Newberry Christopher Rice 14 Chevrolet Silverado 15 21 Joey Coulter Maurice Gallagher Jr Jeff Stankiewicz 14 Chevrolet Allegiant Travel 16 29 Ryan Blaney Brad Keselowski Chad Kendrick 14 Ford Cooper Standard 17 31 Ben Kennedy Steve Turner Doug George 14 Chevrolet Heater.com 18 32 Cameron Hayley Harry Scott Jr Mike Hillman Jr 14 Chevrolet Cabinets by Hayley 19 35 Mason Mingus Kevin Cywinski Dennis Connor 14 Toyota Call 811 20 136 Justin Jennings Beverly Mittler Michael Mittler 14 Chevrolet Mitler Bros Machine & Tool/Ski Soda 21 50 T J Bell Mark Beaver Ken Evans 13 Chevrolet Dedicated to Electrical Linemen 22 51 Erik Jones Kyle Busch Eric Phillips 14 Toyota ToyotaCare/Project Pink 23 54 Darrell Wallace Jr Kyle Busch Jerry Baxter 14 Toyota ToyotaCare 24 63 Jr Heffner Michael Mittler Michael Mittler 14 Chevrolet TBA 25 74 TBA Mike Harmon Gary Ritter 14 Chevrolet TBA 26 77 German Quiroga Tom Deloach Butch Hylton 14 Toyota NET10 Wireless 27 186 Brandon Brown Jerry Brown Adam Brenner 13 Chevrolet Dominion Recycling 28 88 Matt Crafton Rhonda Thorson Carl Joiner 14 Toyota Slim Jim/Menards 29 98 Johnny Sauter Mike Curb Jeff Hensley 14 Toyota Nextant/Curb Records 30 99 Bryan Silas Chris Baluch Cal Boprey 14 Chevrolet TBA MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Dale Earnhardt Jr. compliments Steve Letarte's winning strategy and celebrates his third win of 2014.