Three drivers officially in title race

Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will contend in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Despite finishing 19th Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway, Biffle still holds an 11-point advantage over Johnson, who finished third.

“It feels really good to be locked in with two races to go,” Biffle said. “It was a tough night here, but we did lock ourselves in and still have the point lead. This wasn’t the run we were looking for. We pitted at the end to try and make the car better and learn something, but it was probably the wrong thing to do because we lost about eight spots. We weren’t gonna win, so we thought we might as well try what we can.”

With just two wins this season, Biffle would lose the top spot in the standings to the four drivers that have three wins — including Johnson — if he does not earn another victory. Of the remaining races, Biffle believes Atlanta is his best bet given Roush Fenway Racing’s intermediate track program. As far as Richmond, the current points leader says he’ll “see what we can get.”

For Earnhardt, who holds a four-point advantage over Matt Kenseth, the night could have ended very differently. The No. 88 team made a costly mistake on Lap 347 when Earnhardt pitted before pit road was open. But Earnhardt had a solid car and soldiered back to a 12th-place finish.

This will be Earnhardt’s fifth Chase appearance. He says qualifying into NASCAR’s playoffs early will allow the driver the opportunity “to race” in the next two events.

“I feel good about it,” Earnhardt said. “We worked real hard all season and I want to thank my guys. They do a good job every week and give me good strategy. I made a little mistake and came down a closed pit (road) tonight (laughs). I don’t know what we were thinking.

"But we had a fast car. The car was so fast at the start of the race. We just lost that track position and couldn’t get by some guys. I had fun, though. I don’t know what the fans thought about the race. But I really enjoyed it.”