Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s hopes of a good finish in Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway ended in a seven-car pileup on Lap 418 of the 500-lap race.
Earnhardt was collateral damage in a big pile-up that occurred when Denny Hamlin wheel-hopped and slid up the hill into Danica Patrick, triggering a big pileup that knocked the radiator out of Earnhardt’s No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
Others involved in the incident included Aric Almirola, Ty Dillon, Kasey Kahne and AJ Allmendinger.
“We got bottled-up there in (Turn) 3 and they’re ain’t no bumpers on these cars. It knocked the radiator out of it,” said Earnhardt, who officially finished 34th. “So, we’re out of the race. We went to the garage to try to fix it, but can’t with the new rules. So, we’re done. I was having a good time. But, I’m disappointed with the way we’re finishing. We’ve got to finish better than this.”
Unfortunately for Earnhardt, he ran into his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kahne’s car in the melee.
“They just stopped and I couldn’t,” said Earnhardt, who fell to 25th in points after six races. “I got into the back of the No. 5 (Kasey Kahne). His bumper knocked the top of the radiator off of it, knocked the fitting off the top of the radiator.
“We don’t have much of a bumper on there to begin with keeping the cars as light as we can and that is about the second or third time I’ve knocked the top off the radiator here. I wish they were a little tougher than that, so we could beat and bang and keep going.”