Junior's Day Ends Early After Mid-Race Accident at Indianapolis

Tyler Overstreet | JR Motorsports | 7/23/2017

Dale Jr. Indianapolis NASCAR Nationwide News

Dale Jr. finished 36th at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after suffering terminal damage to his No. 88 during a jam up on a lap-76 restart.

Race: Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Track Specs: 2.5-mile oval / 160 laps
Weather: Cloudy, 83 degrees
Race Winner: Kasey Kahne
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 36th

A strong weekend went south quickly for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 Nationwide when damage suffered on a Lap-76 restart ended the driver’s day prematurely and left him with a 36th-place finish. Earnhardt now ranks 22nd in the NASCAR Cup Series standings through 20 races this season.

After starting 13th, Earnhardt slipped back a few spots early after contact with Brad Keselowski on the opening laps. The No. 88 was scored 17th when the race’s first caution waved after just nine laps. Crew chief Greg Ives called Earnhardt to pit road for four tires under the caution. Before racing could resume, NASCAR delayed the race because of lightning near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That was only the start of weather issues as a heavy downpour caused the race to be delayed by more than an hour.

Racing eventually resumed with Earnhardt restarting 22nd at Lap 18. Noting that he liked his car’s handling, Earnhardt proceeded to drive his way into the top 10 before a competition caution at Lap 31. The Nationwide Chevrolet lined up ninth for the ensuing restart at Lap 35 and held on to finish the opening 50-lap stage in 10th.

Misfortune struck the No. 88 pit crew on pit road and dropped Earnhardt to 20th at the start of the second stage. Following a pair of pit stops to top off on fuel and another four-tire change under caution at Lap 72, Earnhardt lined up 24th for yet another restart at Lap 76.

As the field raced through turn two, the outside lane Earnhardt was running in began to jam up. The chain reaction ended with Earnhardt making significant contact with Trevor Bayne’s No. 6 car. The damage proved to be terminal for the No. 88 Chevrolet as the car’s radiator had been busted.

Earnhardt was forced to take his Nationwide Chevrolet behind the wall and out of the race after just 76 laps.

Kasey Kahne picked up his first win since 2014 over Keselowski, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth.