Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Start at the Back of the Field at Daytona 500


On Sunday, February 20th at 12 PM (EST), millions of people will tune in to watch the Daytona 500. Fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr. might be disappointed, though. Earnhardt’s pole-winning Chevy was in a crash Wednesday afternoon. The car sustained enough damage that the team won’t be able to use it, and will have to use a back-up car on Sunday.

What does that mean? Earnhardt will now have to start Thursday’s Gatorade Duel qualifying race as well as Sunday’s Daytona 500 from the back of the field instead of from the front. Because of the qualifying format for the Daytona 500, only the two fastest cars officially “qualified” for the 500 during Sunday’s time trials. Those two were Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon. NASCAR rules say that if a driver has to switch from the car he qualified in, he must drop to the rear of the field.

Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevy was in second on Wednesday when he slowed to avoid traffic. The two cars behind didn’t react fast enough, Earnhardt was hit from behind, sending both cars into the inside wall.

“I had a bad feeling about it and we come running up on some guys that didn’t have their heads on straight and got into an accident.”