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Engine Failure Ends Dale Jr.'s Night Early at Charlotte

By Tyler Overstreet, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 5/26/2013

Race: Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Track Specs: 1.5-mile quad-oval
Weather: Clear; 62 degrees
Race Winner: Kevin Harvick
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 39th

NASCAR’s longest night was brought to an early end for Dale Earnhardt Jr. when an engine failure sent the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet to the garage at lap 256 resulting in a 39th-place finish. Sunday marks the first time Earnhardt Jr. has failed to finish a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race since June 26, 2011 at Sonoma Raceway.

From the outset, Earnhardt Jr. radioed to crew chief Steve Letarte that his No. 88 Chevrolet was very tight entering the turns but maintained his position inside the top 15. Earnhardt Jr. gradually improved his running position, moving into the top 10 at the lap-100 mark.

Earnhardt Jr. found himself seventh when the race was red flagged due to a fallen cable from the network television CamCot overhead camera system fell on to the track, causing damage to several cars and scattering debris. NASCAR allowed teams to make necessary repairs and adjustments during the 15-minute delay. In an effort to remedy the tight condition Earnhardt Jr. reported, Letarte elected to remove a left-rear spring rubber from the No. 88 car.

When the race resumed, Earnhardt Jr. experienced an extremely loose racecar on entry and exit to the corners. A long green-flag run magnified the No. 88’s issue with the leaders setting a blistering pace putting Earnhardt Jr. a lap down.

Earnhardt Jr. began reporting smoke inside the cockpit several laps before the engine in the No. 88 Chevrolet gave way entering turn three on lap 255. The resulting oil sent several other competitors, including Greg Biffle, Travis Kvapil and Dave Blaney into the wall.

The No. 88 team now sits sixth in the series standings heading into next Sunday’s event at Dover International Speedway.

“We had a massive catastrophic failure in the motor. We never have those problems. Hendrick guys always build good stuff not worried about this down the road we will be all right. We didn’t have the greatest race car either. We know why and we can move forward and feel like we can rebound pretty quick, looking forward to going to Dover. I want to say that I hope everybody is okay from the accident earlier in the stands and that I wish everybody a good Memorial Day weekend. If you a soldier shake his hand and tell them thanks for what he does for our country. We will get them at Dover.”

Charlotte Race Report
Start 11th
Finish 39th
Laps Completed (Led) 256 of 400 (0)
Standings (from leader) 6th (-81)
Condition Out (Engine)


After Oral-B USA 500
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 -- Jeff Gordon 872 0
2 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. 851 -21
3 +2 Matt Kenseth 794 -78
4 -- Joey Logano 791 -81
5 -2 Brad Keselowski 782 -90
6 -- Jimmie Johnson 766 -106
7 +1 Carl Edwards 755 -117
8 -1 Kevin Harvick 748 -124
9 -- Ryan Newman 747 -125
10 +1 Greg Biffle 728 -144
11 +2 Kasey Kahne 708 -164
12 -2 Clint Bowyer 705 -167
Full Standings