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Earnhardt can’t shake gremlins at Indy

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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Dale Earnhardt Jr [Pic credit: Getty for NASCAR]
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane with team owner Dale Earnhardt jr. after winning the series championship during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates with car owner, Dale Earnhardt Jr., after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship following his fifth place finish in the DAV 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 8, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS celebrates his 4th victory of the season with Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motor Sports, and his girlfriend, Amy Reimann, after winning Sunday, October 26, 2014 the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. This is the 10th anniversary of a Hendrick Motorsports plane crash which killed 10 in Martinsville. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 4th win of the season with his crew Sunday, October 26, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. This was also Earnhardt, Jr.`s first career win at Martinsville. The Eliminator 8 phase of the Chase, which Earnhardt, Jr. is not a contender, continues next week at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Chevrolet SS, races to his 4th win of the season with Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS finishing second Sunday, October 26, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. This was also Earnhardt, Jr.`s first career win at Martinsville. Gordon now leads the standings in the Eliminator 8 phase of the Chase which continues next week at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 4th win of the season Sunday, October 26, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. This was also Earnhardt, Jr.`s first career win at Martinsville. The Eliminator 8 phase of the Chase, which Earnhardt, Jr. is not a contender, continues next week at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 26, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 26, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, applies the winners decal in Victory Lane after his victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 26, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 26, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 26, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #24 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS qualified for ninth position Thursday, October 9, 2014 for Saturday night`s Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. Earnhardt Jr., who is in the Chase, is eleventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, who won the Pole position Friday, finished in 12th place after leading for 61 laps Sunday, October 5, 2014 in the Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew, who lead for 45 laps, collided with the wall earlier. The Contender 12 phase of the Chase continues next week at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Crew members work on the car of Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, after crashing due to a tire failure during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on October 5, 2014 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS qualified for eighth position October 3, 2014 for Sunday`s Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. Earnhardt, Jr. is tenth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings, now in the Contender 12 round of the Chase. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS qualified for eleventh position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Earnhardt, Jr. is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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BigZipper

July 31, 2009 3:24 AM

The problem is Junior is not hungry. He has more money than he knows what to do with, smokes, doesn't work out, is that the life style of a dedicated race driver? You have to be on your game to win in Nascar or any other professional motor sport and that means being in top shape both metally and physically, Junior just doesn't have it. Like you say Lewis, it's always the equipment, never the driver. He needs to quit riding on Dale Senior's coat tails and earn his place in the sport.

Lewis - Unregistered

July 27, 2009 5:13 PM

Junior has gremlins everywhere he races, its like the movie "Top Gun" where Maverick loses his nerve and says, "Its no good, its no good!!!!" There is always something wrong with the car, never the driver. When Junior and the sponsors realize this, things should improve one way or another.



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