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Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a bad day at Daytona...and winds up in a controversial crash with Brian Vickers that took out dominant Kyle Busch | NASCAR Racing Breaking News: Trackside Live, Every Week, Every Sprint Cup Race - MikeMulhern.net

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a bad day at Daytona...and winds up in a controversial crash with Brian Vickers that took out dominant Kyle Busch

  By Mike Mulhern
   mikemulhern.net

  DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.
  The new season is only hours old and already there's a feud brewing – between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brian Vickers.
  And Kyle Busch, who dominated much of Sunday's Daytona 500, inadvertently got caught up in that spat and was knocked out the sport's biggest race.
  While Vickers blamed Earnhardt and Earnhardt blamed Vickers, Busch was irate with both, who were a lap down to the field at that point in the season-opener.
   Busch was not happy: "They made their bad day our bad day……two guys a lap down, fighting over nothing…
  "Some guys were having bad days and not doing their best out there.
   "We were so, so strong, led all those laps. I was just playing with my teammate (Denny Hamlin) and having a great time."
   Frustration? "This is about a 15 on a 10-scale," Busch griped. "I don't even know what they were fighting for (on the inside lane), because the outside line was coming. Those cars just should have sat there and waited and gotten back in line when they could.
   "It was really uncalled for, to have two lapped cars racing each other and bumping each other like that.
   "It cost the winning car the chance to win the race."
   Busch pointed to the pit road mistake that Earnhardt made just moments earlier which precipitated the incident.   
   The crash came on a restart with 175 miles to go, after Earnhardt had been penalized one lap by NASCAR for making a yellow flag pit stop with his right-front tire out of the pit box. Earnhardt was trying to charge up through the field and was battling Vickers for the 'Lucky Dog' spot on the track -- to get a lap back.
   Earnhardt made a bid to pass Vickers on the inside on the backstretch, but Vickers threw a block – legal, and not really unusual --- on Earnhardt.
    But Earnhardt didn't back off, instead hitting Vickers in the left-rear quarterpanel and turning him up into the thick of the pack. The two men were running very close to the front.
   Vickers was knocked out of the race in the crash, but Earnhardt managed to keep his car running, though still a lap down at that point. NASCAR apparently debated whether or not penalize Earnhardt again, but no penalty was called.
  "We're racing for the Lucky Dog, and I beat him to the yellow (out of bounds) line," Vickers said. "And he just turned us.
   "Typically NASCAR penalizes somebody for an incident like that. I think Jason Leffler was penalized five laps for doing the same thing (in Saturday's Nationwide race).
   "But I guess NASCAR won't penalize him.
   "That's dangerous, to wreck somebody intentionally in front of the entire field. But apparently he wanted a caution pretty bad.
   "He hit me the time on the way down (as Vickers first moved down to block), which is fine…we all do that.
   "Then he came back up and just hooked me in the left rear."
   Moments later, after the yellow came out for a crash involving Jeff Burton and Paul Menard, Earnhardt got the Lucky Dog and was put back on the lead lap.
   Earnhardt finished 27th.
   Earnhardt didn't take Vickers' criticism lightly: "I got a run on him, he saw me coming. I went to the inside. I didn't make any late move or any surprise.  And he moved to blocked me, and pushed me down to the grass.
  "He drove me down almost into the grass, and I didn’t have much control of my car after that."
    And Earnhardt wasn't happy with the NASCAR penalty that put him a lap down in the first place.
   "I think it's time we reevaluate that rule," Earnhardt said. "My tire was only an inch on the line.
   "But I put a lot of pressure on myself to get up there and lead laps. I can't blame anybody but myself."

JR goes scot free yet

JR goes scot free yet yesterday Jason Lefler gets a 5 lap penalty for rough driving. Oops it was JR - sorry I thought the rules might apply! I forgot.

I'm still trying to figure

I'm still trying to figure out when Earnhardt's tires actually touched the grass and when he got close to it, as he says, during this ordeal. I don't like the blocking tactic Vickers used, but everybody does it at restrictor plate tracks, including Junior. Getting blocked is still no reason to intentionally wreck someone in front of the entire field, especially when you are a lapped car. NASCAR applied a penalty a day earlier for this infraction, so I'm just curious as to what they saw on the video tape today that led them to the conclusion that this was inadvertent contact by Junior?

This is my first post. I have

This is my first post. I have to comment on the #88 situation. Remember not too long ago NASCAR wanted drivers to be a little more of themselves, you know, not so much like robots. Well, I beleive NASCAR officials will use this as their out!.Who else would you want to become your new villian, like his dad. Ratings are sagging, Jr is the most popular driver, and he will never win a championship,the perfect scenario for Jr to take over his new position in NASCAR. Jr should have been parked.He of all people should know the dire consequences of a racecar hitting the wall at that speed at Daytona. This guy has lost a lot of credibility amongst his fellow drivers. If I didn't know better ,I'd think Vince MacMahon was running NASCAR!!!

excellent point -- Junior of

excellent point -- Junior of all people should be most acutely sensitive to the possiblities of a bad crash at Daytona. But where was rick hendrick in all this? Hendrick takes the good times with Jr. but he's too much like Joe Gibbs and Tony Stewart, not eager to step into the situation and help things out. In fact, Hendrick himself -- a good guy, yes, and a charm to work for, with big picture sense -- needs to get out more in the sport's eye and make points with the fans and media. Too often he does a press conference, post-race interviews, or something, and doesn't lay out a forceful case for whatever the point. Contrast that to Jack Roush, who always seems in NASCAR's line of fire.
And fellow car owner Richard Childress too needs to do a better job of "NASCAR PR."

This is exactly the sort of

This is exactly the sort of thing NA$CAR doesn't need right now. Most of the KoolAide drinkers even said it was JR's fault, yet no penalty. Realistically, they realized if they penalized him 5 laps, he would be so far out of contention that the fair-weather JR fans would tune out of the broadcast!

Tom
Inverness, FL

Junior is a great guy,

Junior is a great guy, really, one of the sport's good 'philosophers.' Now maybe he's not superman out on the track, and he does make mistakes, and i know I wouldn't want to be Dale Earnhardt Sr.' kid, with all that pressure. However NASCAR officials first should on the tube immediately addressing issues like this, instead of hiding in the tower. Second, Fox/ABC/whoever should be able to ask questions directly of Mike Helton, Robin Pemeberton and John Darby when something like this occurs....this Earnhardt-Vickers thing and the rain too. NASCAR executives need to stop hiding behind the skirts of PR reps and get out front and center and take the heat.

Both their fault

Both their fault

I place blame on the wreck equally between the two...

Jr had a run on Vickers...Vickers went to block. He actually tagged Jr as he blocked him. Had that been Sr, Vickers would have wound up in the grass and the lead pack would have stayed intact. Jr checked up, Sr wouldn't have.

Since Jr backed off initially and then tried to blend, he should have backed off even more as he blended. I'm sure he didn't want to lose any more speed than necessary, especially with a restrictor plate but he was just a little too out of control at that moment and clipped Vickers as he came back up.

If Jr had stayed in the throttle and sent Vickers into the grass on the initial contact, there wouldn't be a controversy.

Another factor was that the rain was coming and the guys a lap down are racing to get the "lucky dog" if another yellow comes out. At Daytona or Talladega, just getting back on the lead lap gives you a shot at the win, so they had as much right to race hard as the leaders.

Of course it all worked out, Busch got wrecked... :)

As long as NASCAR allows blocking, you're going to have these kinds of wrecks. When a driver blocks and then gets wrecked, I don't think he can lay all the blame on the guy behind him. The blocking driver is an attributing factor as well.

Now, if Jr had had his head on straight while pitting, he would have never found himself in this position. I don't know about that boy sometimes...

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