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LOUDON, N.H. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. has all but locked up his Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup spot.

Entering Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Earnhardt needed to earn 35 points to secure a place in the top 30 in the point standings.

He left with 39 after taking home his 10th top-five finish of the season.

"Had to drive real hard all day long," Earnhardt said.

With multiple wins and a top-30 spot in the standings secure, Earnhardt now just has to start the final seven races of the regular season to officially make the 16-driver Chase.

And he knows that once he gets there, the intensity will be turned up even further.

"You get in that Chase and all of a sudden this guy's ramped it up and this guy over here has ramped it up -- the competition gets so tough because everybody's got their good cars sitting in the back right now waiting on that Chase to start,” Earnhardt explained. “They've got a couple pieces of the puzzle they're not ready to show to the world just yet that'll come out in that Chase. Guys will come out of the woods just flying. So we've got to be ready."