Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start from the rear in Sunday’s Fontana race because of cut tire

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Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s Sunday at Auto Club Speedway got off to an inauspicious start several hours before the green flag for his 600th in NASCAR’s premier series.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver tweeted that his right-front tire has a puncture in it, and his No. 88 Chevrolet will start at the back and forfeit his 18th starting position.

NASCAR.com confirmed with the Hendrick team that Earnhardt will go to the back.

Earnhardt shared a photo of the tire on Twitter and noted that his team would be able to replace only the right tire, which could make for some wonky handling on the abrasive 2-mile oval.

Under a new rule this season, NASCAR mandates that drivers must start the race on the tires they used to qualify.

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Switching tires sends the car to the rear for the green flag, which happened to Denny Hamlin at Phoenix Raceway last week.

NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell explained the rule last Monday on SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

Earnhardt still isn’t a fan of the new policy, particularly at a track such as Fontana, whose razor-sharp surface tears apart tires.