Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Day Ends Early At Pocono Raceway On Sunday After Missed Shiftby Hunter Thomas June 11, 2017 0 comments
LONG POND, Pa. – Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s day at Pocono Raceway ended early on Sunday after his car suffered a mechanical issue that sidelined him on lap 58 in the Axalta Presents the Pocono 400.
Earnhardt Jr. is a two-time winner at Pocono, but on the restart to begin Stage 2 in Sunday’s race, his chance to win a third event at the Tricky Triangle came to an abrupt end. The driver of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS missed a shift on the restart, and his day was over due to a blown engine.
He finished second in the race last season, but he’ll have to settle for a 38th-place finish in this year’s event. On Sunday, he entered the race with a little momentum. Earnhardt Jr. finished 10th in the Coca-Cola 600 and last weekend, he finished 11th at Dover International Speedway. Unfortunately for Earnhardt Jr., this was the second time that he encountered the issue this weekend. During Friday’s practice at Pocono, he blew an engine as he attempted to shift from third gear to fourth gear along the frontstretch. As a result, he had to start from the rear in Sunday’s race.
Earnhardt Jr. is already 22nd in the points standings with no wins this season. With a disappointing finish on Sunday, the journey to a Playoff spot will become a little more difficult unless he’s able to score a victory.
After climbing from his car on Sunday, Earnhardt Jr. said:
“Just something in my motion, I mean there really isn’t anything different. The shifter is not different, the handle is not different, the location, everything is the same. I don’t know. It’s something about my motion that’s not… going in the wrong gear. I wish I could blame it on something else, because this is awful, it feels awful. The car was fast. We drove up into the top 15 there running great lap times. Really, really happy with the car. Wasn’t really running that hard backing up the corners big time and just cruising forward, really happy. It’s just my fault. I don’t know what else to… I wish I could say that the shifter is different and something is out of line or not something I was doing last year as far as where we had the shifter mounted for Pocono. This really concerns me coming back here and the road courses you know. But, we haven’t had any problems all year long, but at places where we do a lot of shifting I don’t know what is going on, what I’ve got to do or why this is really happening out of nowhere. I don’t know… we don’t really have an answer to it other than me just having to pay more attention, but I mean I’ve been doing this all my life and this isn’t a common issue, but it has been this weekend.”
Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images