Daytona 500 Favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. Crashes Out Lateby Kyle Pokrefky February 21, 2016 0 comments
Dale Earnhardt Jr’s bid for a third Daytona 500 win ended prior to the 500-mile mark of the race on Sunday after crashing on Lap 170.
Piloting a chassis nicknamed ‘Amelia’, Earnhardt Jr. was in contention throughout the race, leading a total of 15 laps and taking the fight to a swarm of Joe Gibbs Racing-affiliated Toyotas.
Earnhardt Jr. was working his way through the field towards the front with 30 laps to go on the outside lane and lost the back end of his car off of Turn 4, sending his car careening towards and into the inside wall.
“It caught me by surprise,” Earnhardt Jr. said of losing the back end of the No. 88 Chevrolet. “I was trying to side-draft a guy beside me and boy, it pinned the right front.
“All the downforce there. We have been working on the balance all day.That was our problem. We really underestimated how important handling was going to be today.”
Cars getting loose by themselves off of Turn 4 was a strangely common occurrence on Sunday, occurring much more often than in recent years.
Earnhardt Jr’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott went around off of the final corner and into the infield grass on Lap 20 while Stewart-Haas Racing’s Brian Vickers did the same thing on Lap 57.
“I just got loose,” Earnhardt Jr. stated. “I’ve been really working on the balance of the car. I’ve been pushing real bad all day, especially off of Turn 4.
“We just got it really free. We took two tires there and just didn’t have overall grip I was hoping for.
“I was aggressive trying to side draft guys and move forward.
“We were making some ground on the leaders a little bit so that was looking pretty good because the outside line really hadn’t been doing anything all day.
“Just busted my butt there. Driver mistake.”
Unofficially, Earnhardt Jr. was credited with a 36th-place finish.
Photo Credit: NASCAR