Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s hope of a final Cup win at Daytona comes up short

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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.”

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