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Johnson, Gordon clinch spots in 2011 Chase

CONCORD, N.C. - Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have clinched spots inside the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. can secure his spot this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, earned his spot inside the Chase after finishing fourth last weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, has clinched at least a wild card spot for the postseason NASCAR championship hunt. Gordon can guarantee a top-10 spot with at least a finish of 40th; or 41st and at least one lap led; or 42nd and the most laps led. Gordon’s two victories this season help him achieve the wild card status.

Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, currently is 39 points ahead of 11th-place and needs to leave the Atlanta event with a 49-point cushion in order to secure his spot inside the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. No specific finish guarantees Earnhardt a spot in NASCAR’s postseason championship.

Race coverage of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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