2006 Chase for the Cup


Junior returned to the Chase in 2006, scoring his 17th career Cup win at Richmond on May 6 and entering the final 10 races sixth in the point standings. He scored top-10 finishes in five of the 10 races, but his ultimate setback was a 23rd at Talladega – a race in which he led a race-high 37 laps and was in prime position to win before contact between teammates Jimmie Johnson and Brian Vickers – running second and third behind Junior – collected the Budweiser Chevrolet and sent it spinning down the backstretch. More unlucky breaks diluted Junior's strong performances toward the end, including a fourth at Charlotte and third at Atlanta. Dale Jr. finished the season fifth in points, 147 points behind champion Jimmie Johnson.