His car was built from the ground up by crew chief Lance McGrew, and for most of Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 Chevrolet was a top-ten contender -- and that with Earnhardt still weak from a bout of stomach flu.

After a green-flag pit stop on lap 125, however, Earnhardt felt his engine go sour. As he approached the entrance to pit road on lap 127, it erupted in smoke, spewing oil on the asphalt. Earnhardt finished 36th and dropped one position to 22nd in the Sprint Cup standings.

Because the reliability of his Hendrick Motorsports engines is legend, Earnhardt said the failure was probably his fault.

"I have had no engine problems all year," Earnhardt said. "Hendrick engines, we never have problems with them. I am assuming it was driver related, you know, driver error somewhere around the racetrack. It broke the valve train leaving the pit stall. Probably broke a couple of tips off the valve springs.

"They went down in the bottom and eventually tore the bottom of the engine out. I hate it for the engine guys because they build some great motors. We had a good run going. It is frustrating for my team. We seem to be getting better. We seem to be running better."

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News


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