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But that’s for another day. Up first, he wants to make the Chase. His called his strong finish at Pocono behind Hendrick Motorsports drivers Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon a “championship-effort type day.”

He’ll need more of them over the final five races before the Chase is set if he wants to at least compete for a second championship.

“We’re just putting the blinders on and worried about the 78, and I’m just excited to go back to these tracks a second time,” he said.


Will Graves from Lexington, Ohio and Dan Gelston from Long Pond, Pa., contributed to this report.