Dale Earnhardt Jr's racing luck turned from bad to worse Monday - or perhaps from worse to worst is a more apt characterisation.

Starting 32nd in Monday's rain-delayed Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen, Earnhardt quickly gained eight positions before a succession of troubles eventually sidelined his #88 Chevrolet.

A pit-road speeding penalty sent him to the rear for a lap 21 restart, but Earnhardt worked his way back up to 24th before a brake failure sent him hard into Reed Sorenson's #43 Dodge and then into the tyre barrier at turn ten on the 2.45-mile Watkins Glen International road course.

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"Going into [the turn], I mashed the brake, and it worked for a split second, then it went to the floor like it blew a hose," Earnhardt reported, "It was a brake line or something. I tried to miss the #43 and couldn't do a good job at that, but there wasn't much I could do.

"I couldn't slow my car down, and the gravel trap slowed the car down a little bit, and the tyre barrier worked great, so hopefully the car's not too bad. But it's just real bad luck. We've had some real bad luck."

Earnhardt finished 39th and suffered his third DNF in the past five races. He fell two spots in the Sprint Cup Series standings to 25th.

"I ain't never had the brakes just completely fail on a car like that, so that was really an experience.... It's been a tough year, man."
by Reid Spencer / Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service