Dale Earnhardt Jr. blew his NASCAR Sprint Cup motor less than an hour into Wednesday’s practice session for the Daytona 500 (Sunday, Noon ET on FOX).
Earnhardt ran only 11 laps in practice before his engine failed. His top lap was 191.579 mph — 34th out of 35 drivers.
Earnhardt, who posted the 11th-fastest lap during time trials on Sunday with a speed of 195.584 mph, was scheduled to start sixth in Thursday’s Budweiser 150-mile qualifying race. He will now have to start at the back of the pack.
“We just broke a motor, as simple as that,” Earnhardt said. “We’ll just put a new one in there, start at the back and try to race our way through there.”
In 26 starts at Daytona, Earnhardt has two wins, including the 2004 Daytona 500. He also has won three qualifying races — 2003, 2004 and 2008.