Earnhardt, Elliott suffer early Brickyard 400 exit in Indianapolis

Rusty Jarrett/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

INDIANAPOLIS — Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr. each saw their days at Indianapolis Motor Speedway end long before the checkered flag.

Blown Motor

Elliott was maneuvering his way around the 2.5-mile oval in the early stages of Sunday’s Brickyard 400 when his No. 24 Chevrolet slowed with an apparent engine issue. The sophomore nursed his machine until the Lap 30 competition caution, but lengthy repair attempts under the yellow proved unsuccessful. The Georgian made it just 13 more laps before his motor ultimately gave out on Lap 43.

Elliott’s day ended in 39th with his first-career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) engine failure.

“We don’t know but it was some type of motor issue,” Elliott said. “We went down a cylinder and then started blowing smoke out the pipes. I don’t know what it was. We’ll dig into it and see. But, I’ve been racing Hendrick engines since 2013 and this is the first engine problem I’ve ever had. So, I’ll take those odds all day long. We still have the best engine shop in the business and stuff’s going to happen. We’re pushing it as everyone is. So, we’ll move on to next week and see what we’ve got there.”

Bunched Up

Earnhardt enjoyed a relatively successful opening stage in his final Brickyard 400 start, tallying a stage point with a 10th-place run. However, his day came to an abrupt end 26 laps later when a stack-up shortly after a Lap 76 restart led to heavy front-end damage on Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevrolet.

The Kannapolis, North Carolina native immediately slowed as smoke billowed out of his machine. Earnhardt made it only to the iconic entrance of Gasoline Alley before coming to a stop and climbing out of his machine.

“There were just a bunch of cars slowing down and stopping and it was a chain reaction and we got into the back of the No. 6 (Trevor Bayne) and I guess they were all kind of running into each other and it just knocked the radiator out of it,” Earnhardt said. “We hit the No. 2 car (Brad Keselowski) earlier in the race kind of doing the same thing and it damaged the front end and I think it knocked the bumper bar out of it then, so we really had no protection after that.

“But, we had a great car and I was having a lot of fun. The car was fast. We had a top 10 car for sure. It’s kind of frustrating because I was really enjoying being out there. Hopefully our luck’s going to turnaround. It’s been pretty tough and this is a difficult one to put up with.”

Earnhardt’s final Brickyard 400 resulted in a 36th-place result. The 18-year MENCS veteran ends his career in Indianapolis with five top 10s and one top five.

One Comment

  1. Sol Shine

    July 24, 2017 at 9:42 am

    I just love how people make up excuses for Jr. Another website phrased it that “his car crashed into the one in front”. They forgot to mention that 1./his car did that twice on him and 2./he wasn’t in a self driving robocar, it’s the driver that ran into the cars in front of him, twice.

    Clearly, Junior’s bell is still rung and his wife should redouble her efforts to get him out of the car before he rings his bell permanently. His greedy fans are not helping when they encourage him to continue in this insanity.

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