Earnhardt Jr. had a problem with his oil system that sent him into the wall on lap 218 and out of the race with a severely damaged car.
“I don’t know we broke something in the oil system under caution,” Earnhardt Jr. explained. “The guys said there was some oil in the pit stall after our pit stop. I noticed when I was getting lined up double file for the restart the car was smoking. I just thought maybe we had a tire rub for some reason, but I couldn’t remember what might have caused that. And went into Turn 1 on the restart and the car went straight into the wall with oil all over the tires.”
The problem was noticed a couple of laps before things really went bad for Earnhardt Jr.
“We came out of the pits and there’s some oil in the pit stall I noticed when I was getting lined-up for double file, is smoking. I don’t know why. But it’s got oil all over the engine compartment. So, in the corner, it just went straight in the wall.”
The accident capped a poor day that saw Earnhardt Jr. not perform anywhere near what he’d hoped at the Tennessee short track. Despite practicing well, Earnhardt Jr. couldn’t transfer that speed into the race.
“Yeah I was because we practiced well,” he said when asked if the struggles were a surprise. “But we ran into some issues at the end of the last practice with the car and they were still there today. I don’t know what in our set-up is creating that. It’s not like I’m feeling something that I wasn’t familiar with. We did have some good practices and felt pretty confident, but apparently, whatever we got into the car late in the last practice we didn’t tune it back out. We were really tight in the center and tight in the throttle and guys beating me really bad back to the gas.
“That ain’t no way to run anywhere really.”
Earnhardt Jr. finished 38th. He also finished 34th in the first short-track race of the season at Martinsville Speedway after getting caught up in an accident.
Earnhardt came into Bristol on the heels of his best finish - and first top 10 of 2017 - at Texas, in fifth.
Original Story By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com