Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s final season in the NASCAR Cup series continues to be a growing book of disappointment.
The latest chapter was written in Sunday’s Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway.
First, Earnhardt started at the back of the field due to having to change an engine after Friday’s practice.
Second, about 25 laps into Sunday’s race, the brake pedal on Earnhardt’s No. 88 turned soft abruptly, going almost to the floor.
Then, on Lap 59, Earnhardt’s day came to a quick end once again as a mechanical failure caused him to take his car to the garage because it wasn’t shifting properly. It’s his fourth DNF this season.
“Going in the wrong gear,” Earnhardt told Fox Sports 1. “I wish I could blame it on something else, because this is awful, it feels awful. The car was fast. We drove up into the top 15 there running great lap times. Really, really happy with the car. Wasn’t really running that hard backing up the corners big time and just cruising forward, really happy.
“This really concerns me coming back here and the road courses you know. We haven’t had any problems all year long, but at places where we do a lot of shifting I don’t know what is going on, what I’ve got to do or why this is really happening out of nowhere. ”
Earnhardt said on Periscope afterward that he was going from third to fourth gear and the car went to second gear, causing the issues.
It was Earnhardt’s second career DNF at Pocono.
Earnhardt has now finished 30th or worse six times in 14 races: 37th (Daytona), 30th (Atlanta), 34th (Martinsville), 38th (Bristol), 30th (Richmond) and 38th today at Pocono.
He’ll also likely drop in the NASCAR Cup standings: he entered Sunday’s race 22nd in the points.
Earnhardt has just one top-five this season (Texas) and an additional top-10 (10th at Charlotte).