Earnhardt Jr. Experiences Controversial Daytona 500

Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn't have what you might call “a promising start of the season” on Sunday. The Hendrick Motorsports driver had a poor day from beginning to end during the season opener Daytona 500, eventually crossing the finish line in 28th place.

The first sign of Earnhardt Jr. not having the day of his life was when he missed his pit box on Lap 57. While running in 3rd place – after previously leading the pack on Lap 53 – Earnhardt entered the pit lane but was unable to locate his stall. That caused him to lose valuable time in the race, as he had to stop for service during the following lap also.

“If you look down this pit road, my sign's pink. And every other sign is pink -- so it's hard to see when you're going down there [because] they're all about the same color. So everybody says, 'I'm going to make mine yellow' -- and two weeks later, everybody will be yellow,” commented the Hendrick Motorsports driver after the race.

Later on Lap 120, another pit box mistake caused him a lap down by the race officials. He failed to park his car inside the pit box and received a penalty by the Daytona officials, throwing him outside the leading lap. However, it was the next incident that infuriated some of his fellow drivers, as Earnhardt Jr.'s crash with Brian Vickers on Lap 123 caused a major upset in the race.

Earnhardt tried to overtake Vickers on the inside of Lap 123, but was immediately blocked by the Toyota driver. He then turned right and touched Vickers' car in the process, causing it to spin that led to pure chaos on the track. The two had different stories on the incident after the race. Vickers argued that Earnhardt's maneuver was dangerous to begin with, while the Hendrick Motorsports driver blamed the Red Bull driver for trying to push him below the double-yellow line (out of bounds).

Soon after the race, Busch lambasted Earnhardt for his careless move. The Joe Gibbs driver had led the race for 88 laps and was looking strong for the Daytona 500 win on Sunday.

“One guy that had problems all day on pit road made his problems our problems, and then our problems a big problem. It was just unfortunate with that and it was really uncalled for to have two lapped cars to be racing each other and bumping each other like that. You'll have that I guess in big time auto racing,” argued Busch.
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