Dale Earnhardt Jr. knows how important wins are in starting the Chase (Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is ready for some gambling over the next five races in order to put another win or two in the bank before the start of the Chase.
Although Earnhardt leads the Sprint Cup Series point standings heading into the weekend's Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen, he only has one win to his credit. That would drop him down in the Chase seedings behind multiple winners like Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and
So although Junior would like to stay on top he isn't as worried about maintaining the series point lead as he is about bulking up on the bonus points for victories.
“We can take gambles, but it is real tight up front," Earnhardt said Friday at Watkins Glen. "We come into this race first place in points and we can walk out of here in fifth pretty easily if things were to go bad for us. I know that going in. I prepare myself mentally for all the things that can happen to us. If anything I think it would make us hungrier and try to work harder. Feeling like we haven't quite made the statement we want to make this year.
"We want to win the championship and we want to battle for the championship. On the way to getting that done you want to win more races and we were really conservative all year long."
Now Earnhardt feels the sky is the limit on what he and the No. 88 team can do over the next five races to find their way to victory lane.
"We feel like that in the position we are in now, we can gamble a lot more," he said. "Not be foolish, but we could try to stretch the car on fuel mileage and places like that to try to win races like a lot of these guys do. We just kind of played it safe and made sure we were going to make the Chase. That's the first thing. You don't want to miss the Chase being foolish.
"Now we feel like we've got a good position to do that, these last few races we can kind of just throw it all out there. If we fall back in points because we made a few mistakes, and some gambles didn't pay off it's not a big deal. We know what kind of season we've had and we know we've got a lot to be proud of. I think mentally we can go into the Chase pretty excited about our chances. Hopefully we can make some of those gambles pay off though and things will work out in a positive way and we'll win some races before the Chase starts.”