Multi-Car Crash Ends Dale Jr.'s Daytona 500

Tyler Overstreet | JR Motorsports | 2/26/2017

Dale Jr. Daytona 500 NASCAR Nationwide News

Dale Jr. was collected in an accident while leading just past halfway in the 2017 Daytona 500.

Race: Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway
Track Specs: 2.5-mile superspeedway / 200 laps
Weather: Sunny, 69 degrees
Race Winner: Kurt Busch
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 37th

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s first race since last July ended after 106 of 200 laps when he was collected in a multi-car accident while leading the Daytona 500. At race’s end, Earnhardt was scored 37th.

Starting second, Earnhardt settled into the top five in the early going while reporting that his car’s handling was pretty good. The No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet narrowly avoided contact when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and David Ragan made contact at lap 50. Their brief hiccup resulted in Earnhardt losing several spots. The two-time Daytona 500 champion recovered quickly and charged back into the top five to finish the first stage fifth.

Earnhardt started the second stage fifth, but saw his No. 88 drop outside the top 15 when the inside lane stalled. Once several other leaders began making pit stops, the No. 88 slowly ascended the leaderboard until finally bypassing Jimmie Johnson for the top spot at lap 97.

Despite being the leader, Earnhardt was following several other cars who had pitted and ran on the tail end of the lead lap. One of those cars, the No. 18 of Kyle Busch, broke loose entering turn three on lap 105 with Earnhardt and a group of cars close behind. The sudden spin left the others, including Earnhardt, nowhere to go to avoid the crash. The front end of Earnhardt’s white and blue Chevrolet launched off the ground briefly during the accident.

The No. 88 Nationwide crew made diligent repairs under NASCAR’s newly-instated time clock limiting time on pit road to five minutes. The car’s damage was too much to completely fix, forcing the team to call it day after just 106 laps.