Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s renewed push to make the Sprint Cup playoffs took a serious hit in the Turn 2 wall at Michigan International Speedway.
Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevrolet went to the garage to repair major damage from a crash that also involved rookie Chris Buescher and A.J. Allmendinger. Shortly after a Lap 60 restart, Earnhardt Jr.’s Chevy was between Buescher’s No. 34 Ford (on the bottom) and Allmendinger’s No. 47 Chevy (on the outside).
Buescher’s car wiggled and hit the left rear of Earnhardt’s car, which collected Allmendinger as it headed toward the wall.
Earnhardt wasn’t pleased with Buescher, the 2015 Xfinity Series champion who runs for Front Row Motorsports but is under contract to Roush Fenway Racing.
“(Buescher) just drove in the left-rear quarter panel, man,” Earnhardt told FS1. “I don’t know. On the restarts and all that, you got a responsibility to try to take care of everybody out there, even when you’re three-wide. I’m disappointed in that.”
In a later interview, Earnhardt said Buescher “just lost the nose of his car. I hate it, but you try to take care of each other out there. We all try to race hard, and I wish he would have taken better care of us. He just lost the car and hit the quarter panel. It happens though. I’m angry, but I won’t be too upset about it later.”
After a runner-up finish at Pocono Raceway interrupted a slide of five consecutive races outside the top 10, Michigan will be another poor result for Earnhardt. The Hendrick Motorsports driver was ranked 11th in the points standings entering Michigan and isn’t locked into the Chase for the Sprint Cup yet because he hasn’t won this season.
He started Sunday in 27th but steadily worked his way toward the front.
“We had a pretty good car,” he said. “We were just taking our time there. The car was great. It’s a shame.”
After the race, crew chief Greg Ives sent a couple of tweets — his first since late April: