Despite adversity, Earnhardt still optimistic - NASCAR Notes - - Columbia, South Carolina

NASCAR NOTES: Despite adversity, Earnhardt still optimistic

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy" Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy"

After spending the majority of the 2012 season in the top five positions on the points board, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has not had an electrifying start to the Chase. He currently is in seventh place with 26 points separating him from the leader.

Despite the poor start, Earnhardt still feels like he has a legitimate shot at winning the 2012 title.

"I feel like we're still in the hunt," said Earnhardt this week as he gets ready for Chase race No. 3. "Obviously there are some teams that are showing strength over the last couple weeks but we're not giving up. There's a lot of racing left, a lot of adversity these guys have got to go through."

Earnhardt and his No. 88 team didn't fare so well last week in Loudon but did manage to finish in thirteenth position.

"We definitely had a frustrating week this past race at New Hampshire," continued Earnhardt. "We salvaged a decent finish considering how frustrating it was and that gives me a little bit of confidence that even if things aren't going quite well, we can still get a decent enough run to keep ourselves in the hunt."

Earnhardt has two championship titles to his credit on the Nationwide tour early in his career so he is familiar with a championship stretch run. The question is whether he can translate that experience to this season.

"I don't know. That was a long time ago," replied Earnhardt when asked. "I got confidence that I can win championships. I know how to win championships because I've done it before in that series. The competition level is real similar and the racing isn't a whole lot different either."

The one element of Earnhardt's team this season has been its consistency. It is that consistency that the popular driver hopes will carry him home over the next eight races.

"The guys that we're trying to catch haven't been very inconsistent," said Junior of his competition. "You got eight races left and you got to go in there with a good attitude, body language, and everything where your confidence is high so your team around you feels the same way, and everybody works hard. You got to keep trying."

With eight races to go, Earnhardt knows that things happen in this sport quickly. He also knows that there is still a chance for his team to end up on top.

"This thing can turn around in a week or two and we could be right back up in the middle of the battle up front," continued the popular driver. "We just got to keep working hard to give ourselves that opportunity if the opportunity arises."

This week's race in Dover has not been one of Earnhardt's strongest but a Top 5 finish could definitely help his chances with his best track, Talladega, coming the following week. The fate of the No. 88 team and Dale Earnhardt Jr. could rest on the outcome of the races over the next two weeks.

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