DAYTONA BEACH, FL (Sports Network) – Dale Earnhardt Jr. will have to forfeit his pole position for the Daytona 500 after crashing in Wednesday’s first practice session at Daytona International Speedway and forcing his team to use a backup car for the remainder of Speedweeks events.
Earnhardt, who won the pole for the Daytona 500 last Sunday, was caught up in an accident with Martin Truex Jr. on the frontstretch. Earnhardt had been drafting with his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson when Johnson had to slow down to avoid hitting David Gilliland and Robby Gordon, who were running at a slower pace. Truex, who led a pack of cars, crept up on Earnhardt and bumped him from behind coming out of turn four.
Truex and Earnhardt lost control and then slid onto the apron. The left rear of Earnhardt’s car slammed hard into the inside retaining wall and then ricocheted off the wall before plowing into the right front side of Truex.
Both drivers sustained heavy damage to their cars.
“You got to pay attention out there,” a disgusted Earnhardt said after the wreck. “If you want to come out here and race, you need to pay attention.”
This was Earnhardt’s second wreck at Daytona since track activities began last weekend. He was caught up in a six-car pileup just before the half-way point in Saturday’s Budweiser Shootout.
“I’m just getting caught up in wrecks,” he said. “I feel a little snake-bit right now, because I don’t feel like I was really at fault in any of them, but we just keep getting in them.”
Truex will also use a another car for the rest of Speedweeks.
Earnhardt’s team did not have his backup car prepared in time for him to run laps in the second practice later in the day.
Kyle Busch posted the quickest lap at 200.254 m.p.h. in the opening practice, which was delayed due to rain. Earnhardt had been the fastest at 199.526 m.p.h. before his incident.
Kasey Kahne led the way in the final session at 200.067 m.p.h.
Earnhardt will be credited with the pole for the Daytona 500, but he will have to start from the rear of the field for Sunday’s 500-mile race, as well as Thursday’s Gatorade Duel qualifying races at Daytona.