CUP: Earnhardt To Start From Rear At Fontana After Tire Puncture

Jacob Seelman Cup, Featured 0 Comments

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drop to the rear for the start of Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway. (Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images for NASCAR photo)

FONTANA, Calif. — Perennial fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. will have a long road to travel if he hopes to win Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.

Earnhardt, who was scheduled to roll off 18th after being knocked out in the second round of Coors Light Pole Qualifying on Friday, will make his 600th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start from the rear of the field after a cut right front tire discovered early Sunday morning.

A Tweet from Earnhardt, complete with a picture of the damaged tire, announced the news of the misfortune to Earnhardt’s fans.

“We must have run over something … I’m not sure when,” Earnhardt said on FOX’s NASCAR RaceDay. “It’s not what we wanted to have happen, for sure, but we’ll go to the back and see what we can do.”

Oddly enough, the tire issue comes one day after Earnhardt told Race Chaser Online that he felt tires would be a big factor in Sunday’s race.

Earnhardt also added on Twitter that he is not a fan of the NASCAR rule change prior to this season that forces drivers to start the race on the tires they qualify on or cop a penalty.

The 26-time Cup winner is still seeking his first Fontana victory, with a best finish of second at the two-mile oval in both 2006 (fall) and 2013. He has made the most starts at Fontana among active drivers, with 24.

Earnhardt is not the only driver who will start from the rear of the field in Sunday’s race, either.

23rd-starting Paul Menard will also drop to the rear for an unapproved tire change, as will 27th-starting David Ragan (backup car) and 32nd-starting Jeffrey Earnhardt (transmission change).

Earnhardt’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson rolled out a backup car after a crash in practice on Friday, electing not to make an attempt in qualifying with an untested race car.

Joey Logano, Trevor Bayne, Gary Gaulding and Matt DiBenedetto failed to make qualifying attempts as well, after their cars did not make it through pre-qualifying inspection before the end of the first knockout round, and will all start from the back of the grid.

The Auto Club 400 takes the green flag at 3:30 p.m. ET, with live coverage on FOX, the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.


About the Writer

Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.

Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.

The 22-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.

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