Dale Earnhardt Jr. who initially won the pole with his partner Jeff Gordon for the Dayton 500 this Sunday, but like Junior Nation and for long-time fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr. has come to expect, something was bound to happen. He wrecked while pushing Jimmie Johnson in the two-car tandem during yesterday’s practice for the Gatorade Duel today. When Jimmie Johnson became loose as he slowed down to avoid the cars of Robby Gordon, David Gilliland and Michael Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s qualifying car hit the inside of the retaining wall now he has to rely on his backup car. Unfortunately, he will have to forfeit his pole position and resign himself to back to the pack for the Daytona 500. This is classic Junior karma for the upcoming Great American Race.
Given the past racing history of Junior, this isn’t a bad spot altogether in light of these circumstances. Even during his days before Tony Eury, Jr. or Steve Letarte, he always found a way to come from back of the pack into the top 10 or 15 usually. Unfortunately, most of the time, he simply could not win the race either through his driving style, being involved in a crash or something else altogether prevented him from getting the checkered flag.
The change to Steve Letarte has benefited Dale Earnhardt Jr. already by giving him one of the faster cars, if not the fastest, in the upcoming race. If he can somehow catch up with either Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon by mid-race at least, Hendrick Motorsports could be leading some of the way for the Daytona 500.