Dale Earnhardt Jr’s hope of winning a second race in 2014 came to an end on lap 13 of Monday’s rescheduled NASCAR Sprint Cup Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. After starting 19th, Earnhardt was slowly making his way forward when the No. 88 Chevy careened into the turn one wall hard, burst into flames and rolled to a stop with Earnhardt quickly exiting the car.
As his Hendrick Motorsports team assessed the damaged car in the garage, Earnhardt said the problems stemmed from not being able to see too far ahead.
"Just didn't see the grass. Didn't know the grass was down there,” Earnhardt said. “With the way the A-post is on these cars you can't really see that good to that angle. I just didn't have a good visual of where the apron and the grass was and got down in there pretty good. You can't run through there the way they have these cars on the ground like that. Just a mistake on my part. I just didn't know I was that close to the grass, and made a mistake."
Replays backed his account up as they showed Earnhardt steering down and into the grass along the frontstretch and the front to the Chevy dug into the wet grass before blowing a left front tire and heading towards the wall.
"I drove the car down there. I didn't know we were that close the grass and was following the No. 43 (Aric Almirola),” Earnhardt said. :I thought I was taking a decent line through the dogleg. We were going low around the No. 42 (Kyle Larson) so I was lower than normal and just misjudged it. It tears the car up pretty good when you run through the grass."
Despite the heavy rains of the day before and some drivers complaining of damp spots on the track, Earnhardt said that wasn’t the issue.
"It was no factor,” he said. “I just made a mistake."