Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Suspension Looming for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Crew Chief
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s final Bojangles’ Southern 500 ended with a disappointing 22nd-place finish for the driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
Worse yet, Earnhardt’s crew chief, Greg Ives, is facing a one-race suspension and a $20,000 fine after the No. 88 was found to be missing two lugnuts on the right-rear wheel in post-race inspection at Darlington Raceway.
Earnhardt, who is 22nd in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings, will need to win next Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway if he wants to make NASCAR’s playoffs and race for a championship in his final season.
“They pulled me over because I’ve got some loose lugnuts on the right-rear,” Earnhardt said of the NASCAR inspectors. “Yeah, I mean when they saw they picked right up on it. I had a really bad vibration that last run and there was a bunch of them loose on the right-rear. They (the pit crew) must have just kind of had a screw up.”
Earnhardt said a flat tire kept him from a better finish.
“Just had a really bad vibration, came in and got tires, we had a flat at the very end,” he said. “Something was going, the right-rear was going down for a very long time and finally it went flat.”
And even replacing the flat tire didn’t help much.
“Came in changed that and went back out and it was so loose you couldn’t go so we had to abuse those tires too much at the end,” Earnhardt said. “Twelfth to 15th is where we all ran and I’m not too disappointed because we sat there and ran right with our teammates all night.”