Faced with must-win scenarios, Earnhardt, Johnson lead halfway at Talladega

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson – in must-win situations – have been among the top performers in Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

At the halfway point – 94 of 188 laps – Earnhardt is the leader, followed by Johnson, Casey Mears, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Marcos Ambrose, Kasey Kahne, Paul Menard, Ryan Blaney and Kevin Harvick in the top 10.

There’ve been 17 leaders in the first 94 laps.

At this juncture, if the race were to stop now – and barring any of the following four drivers winning today’s race – Denny Hamlin, Earnhardt, Johnson and Brad Keselowski would be eliminated from advancing to the Eliminator Round.

Surprisingly – both with this race’s significance and its locale – there’s only been one caution up to the midway point.

On Lap 59, Jamie McMurray appeared to have a cut tire that sent him turning left into the cars of Michael McDowell and Brad Keselowski. Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch were all collected in the aftermath.

However, all six cars suffered only minor to moderate damage and were able to continue, although Logano fell back the furthest, to 40th position.

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