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Earnhardt: Buck stops with me.


Dale Earnhardt Jr. made it absolutely clear: when it comes to incidents on the racetrack or mistakes on pit road, the buck stops squarely with the driver of the #88 Chevrolet. Period.

It was a contrite, forthright Earnhardt who spoke to a mob of reporters behind his transporter after the first Sprint Cup practice session, less than a week after the Daytona 500 wreck that shoved him front and centre into a maelstrom of controversy.

For the record, Earnhardt was a lap down in last Sunday's Daytona 500 after suffering a penalty for pitting with his right front tyre on the outside line of his stall. Believing he had to move to the front of the field to regain the lost lap, Earnhardt was racing all-out against Brian Vickers, who also was a lap down, after a restart on lap 124.

Vickers blocked Earnhardt, forcing the #88 to the apron. But, as he moved back up onto the banking, Earnhardt clipped the left rear of Vickers' Toyota, igniting a ten-car wreck that sapped the strength from the field - notably the #18 Toyota of Kyle Busch, who had led 88 of the first 123 laps.

By then, Earnhardt already had made a succession of pit-road mistakes during Speedweeks, including missing his pit box entirely earlier in the 500.

But, after a week of uncharacteristic criticism from fans, the media and fellow competitors, Earnhardt shouldered responsibility for a miserable week at Daytona, along with explaining his mind-set as the rain-shortened Daytona 500 moved toward its conclusion.

"Well, I definitely could have used better judgment, going back up on the racetrack," he said, "It's hard to tell. There was rain coming. I was a lap down. I had to get my lap back, if I was going to try to win the race... The race was getting ready to be rained out, everybody knew that, so you race hard.

"I hate that they wrecked all the cars, and I hate that me and Brian had to get on bad terms with each other. Those things I regret, but I'm out there racing. I've made mistakes before, and it probably won't be the last one I make."

It was Vickers, you'll recall, who wrecked Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson at Talladega in October 2006, in the race that gave Vickers his only Cup win to date. But Earnhardt dismissed as absurd any notion, advanced by bloggers during the past few days, that the Daytona wreck was somehow payback for the Talladega incident.



Related Pictures

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Dale Earnhardt gets hit with a pit penalty at Daytona [Pic credit: Getty for NASCAR]
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, races to an eighth place finish with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS who finished in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet SS, stops in his pit on his way to a fifth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Elliott takes over the #24 car from retired driver Jeff Gordon.  (Photo by Ashley R Dickerson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, races to a fourth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 as Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage (L) and John Godwin of Duck Commander (R) look on at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 7, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 8, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 8, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates with the chequered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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jeannie tucker - Unregistered

February 22, 2009 4:46 PM

Would everyone have jumped out of their drawers if this had been anyone but Jr.? Probably not. We (his die-hard) fans are expecting great things out of him. maybe we expect too much too fast. Jr. is a clean driver he doesn't wreck drivers on purpose. it's a new race this week we need to focus on what's coming not what happened.. I want to see Jr. in victory lane and i'm sure we will. let it go!!!!!!!!!

Theirindividual - Unregistered

December 15, 2009 3:10 PM

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