Dale Earnhardt Jr. dodged a bullet after being involved in a wreck earlier in Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, climbing back from two laps down to rebound to as high as sixth position.
But on Lap 105 and after climbing back on the lead lap after being down two laps, Earnhardt was involved in another wreck, suffering significant damage that brought his hope of winning tonight’s race to an end.
The wreck began when Kevin Harvick spun, forcing Earnhardt into the wall, and then both drivers bounced into the middle of the pack, collecting several other drivers including Brad Keselowski and Kasey Kahne.
Harvick did not speak to reporters, but told Motor Racing Network that he suffered a vibration before the incident, adding, “I guess that’s what we’re supposed to do, ride around on crappy tires.”
Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevrolet, which started on the pole, suffered significant suspension damage that couldn’t be repaired, and his night is over. He was taken to the infield care center, was checked and released. He’ll likely finish 32nd in his final Cup start at Daytona.
“As soon as we got our lap back, I knew anything was possible,” Earnhardt told NBC Sports. “We were just drafting around up there, I think the Ford (Harvic) had a flat and we had nowhere to go.
“It’s been a wild night. I didn’t anticipate this much action and this much torn up sheet metal. … I wish we could have had a good finish tonight, let alone a win. … It just wasn’t to be.”
Both the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series will race Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway.
Cup cars will start the day’s action by qualifying for Sunday’s playoff race, followed by the Truck playoff race and then the Xfinity playoff race.
Talladega Superspeedway (Cup, Xfinity and Truck)
Saturday: Sunny. High of 78.
Saturday, Oct. 1
(All times Eastern)
- 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Cup Series
- 9:30 a.m. — Truck Series
- 1 p.m. — Xfinity Series
- 10:30 a.m. – Noon — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio)
- 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series race (94 laps, 250 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
- 4 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (113 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.
Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).
Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.
Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).
The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.
TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.
Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.
Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.
Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.
Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.
The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.
Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).
Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway
(All times Eastern)
START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.
PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.
DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.
STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.
TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.
FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.
LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.