After a fifth place result at Texas Motor Speedway two weeks ago, it looked like things were starting to turn around for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and his No. 88 team, but a mechanical failure during Monday’s rain-delayed race at Bristol would put an end to his hopes of scoring another good finish.
Starting the day in 20th after qualifying was rained out, Earnhardt had his work cut out for him with the unknown conditions on the concrete surface of Bristol’s high banks and was only able to gain a few positions by the end of stage one.
Stage two was more of the same as he would battle a tight-handling car, but with a little more than 30 laps remaining in the second stage, Earnhardt’s team noticed oil in his pit stall after pit stops under caution. That oil would come back to bite them when the race went back to green as Earnhardt’s Chevrolet went straight when the field entered Turn 1 on lap 219, causing him to slap the outside wall.
Once he returned to the pits, the car would not re-fire as the mechanical issues were determined to be terminal, forcing the team to push the car behind the wall and they would be done for the day at that point.
“We came out of the pits and there was some oil in the pit stall,” said Earnhardt. “I noticed when I was getting lined up for the double file, it was smoking. I don’t know, but it’s got oil all over the engine compartment. So when we went in the corner, it just went straight into the wall. I don’t know what’s broke, but I think that’s the end of the day.”
With his second DNF of the season resulting in a 38th place finish, Earnhardt now has finishes of 30th or worse in four of the eight races this season.