Mechanical problems relegated Dale Earnhardt Jr. to a 32nd-place finish in Sunday's Auto Club 500, breaking the momentum of his second-place run in the season-opening Daytona 500.

Earnhardt finished twelve laps down after stopping for extensive repairs on Lap 183.

"We tore up an axle or a drive plate -- one of the two happened first," Earnhardt said. "Down in the centre of (turns) one and two, I just got back to the gas, and the car felt like it had a flat tyre. I don't know. Something's going on there where we're chewing that stuff up and tearing it up. We've got to figure out why that's happening. They think it's a material issue, so we'll just have to see."

Asked whether his team was sharing information with those of Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson (Sunday's race winner), Mark Martin (fourth) and Jeff Gordon (20th), Earnhardt replied, "Of course we are. I can't build the cars. What do you want me to do? I just drive them."


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