Dale Earnhardt Jr. hit the wall in Sunday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway, ending his day early and blowing his streak of three straight top four finishes.
This year Earnhardt had been on a tear, finishing third, third, and fourth in the first three races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Season. But on Sunday he blew a tire, sending his car backward into the wall and ending his day.
Afterward, Earnhardt took blame for taking it too hard on the tire, making it a point to praise Goodyear for “trying to soften it up.”
“Not a lot of guys are having tire problems,” Earnhardt said. “You just can’t abuse it. We were really, really loose and abused the tire.”
“I want to get angry, but we’ve got to get the balance of the car better, you know? A lot of those guys are running without any problem. It just wore the tire out.”
Though his day ended after hitting the wall, Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn’t seem too upset about the abrupt ending to his race.
“They never tell you they are going to blow out [laughs], never,” Earnhardt joked to reporters after the race. “You don’t ever have a warning. It will be alright.”
The bad day for Dale Earnhardt Jr. was a great day for Kevin Harvick, who won his fourth straight race at Phoenix International Raceway, blowing out the field and leading for more than 200 laps. Harvick has now won five of his last six races at Phoenix.
He led more than 200 laps and won for the third straight time at Phoenix, where he has won five of the last six races and a record seven overall. Harick is on quite the hot streak, with seven straight finishes in the top two and four wins in his last six races, including the last two of the 2014 championship season.
Harvick credited his team for the wins.
“I feel like we get better as we go through different situations,” Harvick said. “You see these guys hang out together, how mellow everybody is, how everybody gets along. It’s really, really special to be a part of. It’s scary how well we get along with each other. I don’t want to talk about it sometimes so I don’t jinx it.”
After Dale Earnhardt Jr. hit the wall, he logged just his second finish outside the top 10 in the past eight races.
[Image via Getty]