Monday’s rain delayed Duck Commander 500 began with 12 caution laps as Dale Earnhardt Jr. clipped the grassy apron in turn #1. Earndhardt’s car plowed into the grass at just under 200 mph blowing the left-front tire and then smashing into the outer wall, setting his car ablaze. Earndhart quickly climbed out and over his car, watching it go up in flames.
Earnhardt admittedly just “made a mistake”.
“I just didn’t see the grass, didn’t know the grass was there that close,” he said in a Fox interview.
Earndhardt’s partner Jimmie Johnson was following directly behind and also sustained damage from the crash. Johnson had already made repeated pit stops when his hood flaps sprung open at the beginning of the race as a result of jet dryers running on the track.
It was the second fiery crash Earnhardt has experienced during his career. In 2007, at Infineon Raceway in California, he was driving a Corvette in practice for an American Le Mans Series race when he lost control and crashed. Within seconds, the car was engulfed in flames.
Earnhardt managed to get out of the car and was helped to safety by marshals. Earnhardt said later that his father, Dale Earnhardt Sr., who was killed in a crash at Daytona in 2001, was with him in the car and urged him to get out.
For a video of the crash, please click here
Metroland Media Group for Wheels.ca