Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Making Chase Without Running Well Would Be 'Pain In The Ass'

Dale Earnhardt Jr. sounded Friday as if he'd rather not make the Chase if his No. 88 team isn't going to contend for the Sprint Cup championship.

Earnhardt Jr. has had some solid runs over the last few weeks, but he said at New Hampshire that his results aren't good enough to run for a title.

"I'll admit we're not there; we need to get there," he said after qualifying. "We can run like we've run the last couple weeks and make the Chase, but that doesn't win a championship, either."

Because of all the obligations that NASCAR requires of drivers who make the Chase, Earnhardt Jr. hinted he'd just as soon stay out of the postseason if his team isn't going to contend.

"We need to step it up because we could make the Chase, but then it just becomes a pain in the ass because we're in the Chase but we're not contenders and we gotta do all the horseshit you've gotta do as a Chase member – going to New York and all that stuff," he said. "It ends up being more work than anything else.

"If I'm going to make this Chase, I want to make it and feel like I've got a chance to contend and battle in the top five and be around in the last couple races with a shot still at winning the championship. And we are a long, long way from that as a team. But we're really positive at the same time. We've just got to admit that we've got to get better and keep working toward that."

Earnhardt Jr. was following a school of thought often mentioned by Matt Kenseth, who has said repeatedly in the past that making the Chase means little if a team can't contend for the title.

Currently, Earnhardt Jr. sits 13th in points.

"We don't have a lot of (problems) – like this piece and this piece that we need to improve on – we just need to find more speed as a team," he said. "We've got another notch to get to, and we ain't there yet."

In the meantime, he's got other things to worry about. His car experienced a problem with the fuel pump cable in practice, which somehow broke twice.

The car was "hooked up" when it came off the truck, Earnhardt Jr. said, but the broken cable was a concern.

"Cables shouldn't break two times in a row like that," he said. "Sometimes the cables do break, but if it breaks twice, something else is binding it up."

The team changed the fuel pump, and if there are no further issues tomorrow, Earnhardt Jr. said he feels confident about a good run on Sunday.

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