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Nick Bromberg

Well well... guess who's now in the top 12?

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Yup. That guy in the picture over there. It's gotta be the beard, right?

After winning Friday night's Nationwide race, it was reasonable to assume that Dale Earnhardt Jr. could carry some momentum over to the Coke Zero 400.

Well, that momentum may be reflected in the box score, but it sure wasn't present during the race. However, thanks to that massive wreck that he barely skirted by, Junior ended up with a fourth place finish despite never sniffing the lead.

"We were terrible all night," Earnhardt Jr. told TNT. "We didn't do a good job this weekend as a team putting our car on the racetrack making it as good as we could. We thought we were going to be OK, but we just weren't when the race started. We just have to do a better job. We just got lucky. Real lucky. I'm proud of the work the guys did but you know, you'd rather be good than lucky."

And that luck pushes Junior up to 11th in the points standings, bumping his teammate Mark Martin out of the top 12. As of now (and depending on how NASCAR finally sorts out the mess from the carnage, the points totals could shift slightly this week) Junior's seven points ahead of Carl Edwards in 12th and 46 points ahead of Martin in 13th.

So take a deep breath, Junior Nation. Your man is in the top 12. But remember, the Chase doesn't start until September.

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