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Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage sliced Turn 4 grandstand tickets to only $88 for the Nov. 4 race. Pocono Raceway president Brandon Igdalsky is offering $100,000 if Earnhardt wins Sunday to a fan who enters a contest at various souvenir trailers, stands or tents located at the track.

“He’s obviously one of the hottest drivers in the garage right now,” Igdalsky said. “Him taking the points lead just made it that much better. Maybe we’ll roll it over next year if he doesn’t win.”

Earnhardt’s put the sport on notice that this is the year he can be a championship threat all the way to the end.

“I think his confidence is up. I think he believes in his team and Steve,” four-time champion and teammate Jeff Gordon said. “Their personalities and confidence in one another was built. It’s a great team over there and it’s a great facility. They really know how to step things up.”

Earnhardt’s 143 races between wins was the sixth-longest streak in Sprint Cup history. Most drivers may not have been as fortunate to keep their jobs.

But not every driver has the cache of Earnhardt.

Winning it all would wipe away all the lean seasons for Earnhardt loyalists.

“The closer we get to the Chase,” Earnhardt said, “the more real the opportunity seems.”

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Dan Gelston can be followed at http://twitter.com/apgelston