The Duck Commander 500 was postponed until Monday. The first ten laps of the race were run under caution and once the race went green it took only a few laps before one car found it’s way off the track.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. said in a interview that he made a mistake and drove his No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet into the grass on the front-stretch at Texas Motor Speedway. The results was a shark turn right and a fireball erupting and following his car around the track. Earnhardt Jr. parked his car and evacuated safely.
“Just ran into the grass on the apron on the front straightaway there,” Earnhardt said. “I was following the 43 [Almirola] and just didn’t see the grass. Didn’t know the grass was down there that close…I really didn’t have a good visual where the grass was and just got down in there pretty good. That’s awful.”
Earnhardt’s car was damaged beyond repair. He will end up finishing 43rd. It was his first DNF (did not finish) since last September at Chicagoland — the first race in the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Earnhardt began this season by winning the Feb. 23 Daytona 500.
“You can’t run through there [grass] with the way we’ve got these cars on the ground like that,” Earnhardt added. “Just a mistake on my part. I just didn’t know I was that close to the grass and made a mistake.”
Jimmie Johnson, the six-time and defending Sprint Cup champion and three-time race winner at Texas, was behind his teammate, Earnhardt, at the time of the incident. Debris from Earnhardt’s car caused damage to the windshield on Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet, forcing him to pit multiple times for repairs. Johnson later suffered a flat tire, putting him three laps down.
Harvick suffered engine failure on lap 29, which put him out of the race. He was running second to pole sitter and then leader Tony Stewart. Harvick did not comment on his race, as he quickly left the track in disgust. The driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet will finish 42nd. He won at Phoenix on March 2 but has finished 36th or worse in four of the past five races.