Skip to content

(UPDATED) Costly mistake for Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Crashes early at Texas, car catches fire; Johnson also has woes

Apr 7, 2014, 12:43 PM EDT

Samuel Deeds 400 At The Brickyard - Practice Getty Images

It was a rough start to Monday’s rain-postponed Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway for Sprint Cup points leader and Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Just two laps after the race went green on Lap 11 – due to green/yellow competition caution conditions for the first 10 laps – Earnhardt was heading into turn 1 when his left front tire got into the soggy infield grass.

The front end of Earnhardt’s car sank hard into the grass. The car shot off the grass and abruptly turned to the right and hard into the outside retaqining wall at close to 190 mph.

Compounding the issue was Earnhardt’s car caught fire shortly upon impact. He rolled the car towards the infield and climbed out while track safety personnel extinguished the blaze.

Crew chief Steve Letarte said over the team radio that they were going to evaluate the extent of the damage and see if it would be possible to make repairs and get Earnhardt back on the track.

“Just ran into the grass on the apron on the front straightaway there,” Earnhardt told Fox Sports. “I was following the 43 (Aric Almirola) and just didn’t see the grass, didn’t know the grass was down there that close. I really didn’t have a good visual where the grass was and just got there pretty good, that’s all.

“… It was just a mistake on my part.”

Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson‘s car also was damaged when some of the grass kicked up by Earnhardt’s car, as well as some of the tire from the left front tire of Earnhardt’s car slammed into Johnson’s windshield. Johnson was forced to pit three different times in the following 15 laps for repairs to be performed.

Johnson, who won at TMS last fall, suffered additional problems around Lap 42 when his left rear tire blew out, forcing him to pit for a fourth time in the race, leaving him three laps off the lead lap.

Johnson then pitted under the competition yellow caution on Lap 48 for additional repairs, this time to the right rear of his No. 48 Chevrolet.

Casey Mears‘ car also suffered similar damage — although not as extensive as what Johnson suffered. He brought his car into the pits for repairs and went back onto the track.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Latest Posts
  1. Off The Grid Mexico Kicks Off on NBCSports.com (VIDEO)

    Mar 31, 2015, 6:04 PM EDT

    Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg AP

    Off the Grid Mexico kicks off with episode one of a six-part digital series.

  2. Mardenborough, two spectators released from hospital after Nurburgring accident

    Mar 31, 2015, 4:17 PM EDT

    Photo: NISMO Photo: NISMO

    Jann Mardenborough and two spectators were released after this weekend’s VLN crash at the Nurburgring.

  3. Patron ESM heads to Paul Ricard (VIDEO)

    Mar 31, 2015, 1:52 PM EDT

    Photo: Extreme Speed Motorsports Photo: Extreme Speed Motorsports

    ESM recaps its test from the Prologue at Paul Ricard.

  4. IMS releases statement in wake of Indiana RFRA legislation

    Mar 31, 2015, 12:47 PM EDT

    IMS Pagoda Getty Images

    IMS statement comes out after Indiana’s recent religious freedom legislation.

  5. IndyCar notes: Rahal’s questionable penalty, one-off drivers, rookies have tough days

    Mar 31, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT

    KimballRahal AP

    Catching up on the rest of the action from St. Petersburg, with a run through the moments of contact that triggered avoidable contact penalties.

  6. The Rolling Stones to hit IMS on July 4

    Mar 31, 2015, 10:11 AM EDT

    StonesIMS

    Rolling Stones to play at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

  7. Spectator injured but in stable condition after being hit by debris at St. Pete race

    Mar 31, 2015, 9:33 AM EDT

    StpDebris AP

    Loose debris hit by a car, then goes over wall and hits a fan outside Turn 10 at St. Petersburg.

  8. Hawksworth, Filippi score solid top-10s to open season at St. Petersburg

    Mar 30, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    HawkStp15 AP

    Hawksworth, Filippi impress on opening outings with their new teams in St. Petersburg.

  9. Experience trumps youth on IndyCar’s opening weekend with aero kits

    Mar 30, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    JPMSTPwin AP

    IndyCar’s “old guard” reigned in St. Petersburg, as the new manufacturer aero kits debuted.

  10. Moto GP: Rossi wins opening-round thriller in Qatar

    Mar 30, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    MotoGP Qatar Getty Images

    Victory number 70 of the Italian’s remarkable Moto GP career.

  11. Ecclestone considering creation of all-female grand prix series

    Mar 30, 2015, 1:35 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Malaysia - Practice Getty Images

    However, Williams test driver Susie Wolff believes that women should be reaching F1 in a more organic way.

  12. IndyCar: Bourdais opens strong for KVSH; Coletti impresses despite late stop for KV

    Mar 30, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    SebStp AP

    KVSH’s Bourdais gets result after a consistent drive; KV’s Coletti stars but fades after late race splash-and-dash for fuel.

  13. St. Petersburg notes: Alberico, Eidson, Beretta, Jenner score Sunday wins

    Mar 30, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    Photo: Pro Mazda Photo: Pro Mazda

    Pro Mazda, USF2000, Pirelli World Challenge, SST roundup from St. Petersburg.

  14. Chevrolet teams dominate IndyCar’s season opener, new aero kit era

    Mar 30, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    ChevySTPdomination AP

    Chevrolet aero kits dominate on debut at St. Petersburg.

  15. Ericsson frustrated to spin out early in Malaysia

    Mar 30, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Marcus Ericsson AP

    Swedish driver was fighting in the points before spinning off into the gravel on lap three in Malaysia.

  16. Wolff surprised by Ferrari win, but defends Mercedes strategy calls

    Mar 30, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Australian F1 Grand Prix - Previews Getty Images

    Wolff defends the decision to fit Lewis Hamilton with hard tires at his final pit stop.

  17. NHRA: Jack Beckman (54 races), Larry Morgan (120 races) snap lengthy winless streaks in 4-Wide Nationals

    Mar 29, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    nhra four-wide nationals

    Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Larry Morgan (Pro Stock) broke lengthy winless streaks in Sunday’s finals of the 4-Wide Nationals in Concord, N.C.

  18. Montoya’s evolution evident after statement victory in St. Pete

    Mar 29, 2015, 8:40 PM EDT

    JPMSTPwin2 AP

    The year-on-year evolution of JPM showcases a driver still getting even better.

  19. Jeans and Ice Cream: Will Power’s brother live tweets IndyCar season opener

    Mar 29, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT

    Will Power, Will Power,

    Will Power’s brother brings the jokes while live tweeting Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.