Daytona 500: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s day ends after crash

Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports /

After an impressive week at Daytona International Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Daytona 500 race ended prematurely during Stage 2.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was primed for a stellar day at the Daytona 500. He qualified for the front row a week ago and finished second in his Can-Am Duel race. During Sunday’s Stage 1, Earnhardt Jr. finished fifth to earn even more championship points. But Stage 2 wasn’t as kind to the No. 88 as it was involved in a six-car wreck.

Earnhardt Jr.’s return to racing was one of the most-followed stories this week at Daytona. During Sunday’s crash, his car drove over Kyle Busch’s hood as it almost went 45 degrees around the curve.

It was a freak crash caused by Busch’s right rear tire having a random issue. Busch’s car spun out and caused the subsequent incident. Earnhardt Jr. immediately drove to pit row as his team attempted to fix the car. They were able to make repairs under the five-minute clock.

Unfortunately, Earnhardt Jr. wasn’t able to attempt posting minimum speed as the race went to a red flag. After the red flag was lifted, Earnhardt Jr. had about another minute to have any damage repaired. Yet his team didn’t even attempt to as the No. 88 headed for the garage. Under new NASCAR rules, cars that enter the garage can’t return to the race.

Luckily, Earnhardt Jr. didn’t take that hard of a hit. He was released from the medical center at the race. This is good news especially given his concussion he sustained during the 2016 season. Overall, Earnhardt Jr.’s day didn’t end as planned but he impressed in his first official race action since being medically cleared back in December.

Next: Daytona 500: Kyle Busch out after crash

Earnhardt Jr. has laid a solid foundation for his 2017 season. He and his crew now turn their focus to the next Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race in Atlanta next weekend. This premature exit will only motivate the No. 88 team to do even better the next time Dale Jr. enters the car.