By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – Trouble came quick in the first practice for the Bank of America 500. Just minutes into the first practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. contacted the turn four wall.
Earnhardt slid up the track in the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS. As he did, his right-side tires slide into the PJ1 compound. The tires grabbed and pulled him straight towards the wall. The contact was severe enough that he will be forced to a back-up car.
Earnhardt was not exactly sure what happened,
“I don’t know. I got into this black stuff and it just took off into the fence. I think the car was pretty good, but had to pull a back-up out. It should be fine though. It’s a good thing that it happened early and we will get to practice tomorrow and get to work on it.”
The session was not over for Earnhardt as his Hendrick Motorsports team, aided by those from his teammates, Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, and Kasey Kahne, unloaded the back-up car. He made a few laps, ending up 26th on the speed charts.
In 34 career starts at Charlotte, Earnhardt has six top-fives, 13 top-10s, and one pole position. He made his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at the 1.5-mile D-shaped oval. Sunday’s Bank of America 500 marks Earnhardt’s final Premier Series start at Charlotte as he will retire from full-time competition after this season.
Earnhardt was not the only driver to find the wall in practice. David Ragan and Kyle Busch also contacted the turn four wall. It is unclear if they will repair their cars or go to a back-up. Elliott nearly caught the wall and Brad Keselowski spun, somehow avoiding the wall.
Now Earnhardt, Greg Ives, and his entire Hendrick Motorsports team will work hard to make his final Charlotte Motor Speedway start one to remember.