Practice crash costs Earnhardt pole

Pole-winner Dale Earnhardt Jr will now start from the rear of the field in his Gatorade Duel and the Daytona 500 after damaging his primary car in an incident during Wednesday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice

Practice crash costs Earnhardt pole

Earnhardt was pushing Hendrick Motorsports team-mate Jimmie Johnson coming out of Turn 4 when they arrived behind the slower tandem of David Gilliland and Robby Gordon, while running in a rain-delayed practice session.

As Johnson seemed to be running out of space while trying to pass the slower cars on the outside, he got off the throttle as did Earnhardt behind him, but Michael Waltrip Racing's Martin Truex Jr, who was trailing the pair, could not avoid running into the back of him while being pushed by Red Bull's Brian Vickers.

Earnhardt lost control of his car after being hit by Truex, ending up crashing against the inside barrier and causing enough damage to his pole-winning car to force a switch to a back-up.

As per NASCAR rules, whenever a driver switches to a back-up car after qualifying, he has to start at the rear of the field. That means Earnhardt will not start Sunday's race from pole position plus he also has to go to the rear for today's Gatorade Duel, where he also had pole position.

"I just really don't know what was going on there," Earnhardt said. "The guys on the inside looked like they were going to stay low and then they started kind of creeping up, and they gave me the impression they were going to be closing the hole on the outside. So Jimmie lifted. And he about wrecked and I got off the gas and there were a couple of guys coming behind me - Truex, and a couple other guys - and just didn't have a chance.

"You've got to pay attention out there, man. If you're going to come out here and race, you need to pay attention."

The Hendrick driver will now run chassis 88-576 in the Duel, the same on that Jeff Gordon raced last year at Talladega in October, finishing eighth.

Truex switched to a back-up car as well and will also go to the rear of the field in his Gatorade Duel, but as his position in the Daytona 500 field had not been set yet in Sunday's qualifying - which only decided the 500 front row and the Duel line-ups - he will not have to go to the rear for the Daytona 500. His starting position will depend on his finishing position in Thursday's duel.

"Just somebody made a bad decision up ahead," Truex said about the incident. "Dale and Jimmie and me and Briankind of had our own two-car deals going there. We were kind of swapping back and forth. We just had caught some guys that were a lot slower then we were.

"For some reason they decided to pull up in front of our little pack coming at them about 20 miles per hour faster than they were going. It's just a shame to tear up racecars in practice... It was easily avoidable by some of the guys out there."

Pole position for the Daytona 500 could now be up for grabs on Thursday's duels, although Jeff Gordon may eventually get it should Earnhardt choose the outside lane for the start, given that technically he remains the polesitter.

Earnhardt's incident is his second during Speedweeks events at Daytona, as he also crashed during Saturday's Budweiser Shootout.

shares
comments
Plate size reduced for Daytona

Previous article

Plate size reduced for Daytona

Next article

Ganassi's missing trophy: Chasing the Sprint Cup

Ganassi's missing trophy: Chasing the Sprint Cup
Load comments
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Plus

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup Series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Plus

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR
Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Plus

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organisation - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR
Aug 31, 2021
The F1 nearly-man winding back the clock in NASCAR’s European cousin Plus

The F1 nearly-man winding back the clock in NASCAR’s European cousin

A multiple F3000 race winner, Marc Goossens was on the precipice of making Formula 1 in the 1990s - but a lack of budget left him without a path to the promised land. Turning to an illustrious racing career in sportscars, Goossens left the endurance circuit to try his hand at racing stock cars - and now calls the NASCAR Euro Series home

NASCAR
Jul 1, 2021
Why a British prospect is trying to make it in NASCAR Plus

Why a British prospect is trying to make it in NASCAR

There has never been a full-time British driver in the NASCAR Cup. But Alex Sedgwick, who is rising through the stock car ranks, wants that to change and could be a trailblazer for European talents to reach the top echelons of the NASCAR ladder

NASCAR
Feb 28, 2021
How Earnhardt’s death changed American motorsport Plus

How Earnhardt’s death changed American motorsport

It's 20 years since legendary driver Dale Earnhardt Sr died at the Daytona 500, but the legacy of his crash continues today through the pioneering safety work done by NASCAR

NASCAR
Feb 18, 2021
The NASCAR subplots to keep an eye on in 2021 Plus

The NASCAR subplots to keep an eye on in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season

NASCAR
Feb 12, 2021
How a second-chance NASCAR ace is rebuilding his career Plus

How a second-chance NASCAR ace is rebuilding his career

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a shot at redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith

NASCAR
Feb 11, 2021