Pole Winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. Involved in a Wreck in Practice, Will Start in the Rear of the Field on Sunday

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Posted By: Anne-Marie Rhodes, follow @annemarierhodes

DAYTONA BEACH, FL-NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice update.  Pole winner (88) Dale Earnhardt Jr. and (56) Martin Truex Jr. both were involved in a wreck in turn four at Daytona International Speedway that lead to Earnhardt hitting the wall.  Both Earnhardt and Truex will go to back up cars.  The 88 will start in the rear of the field in the Gatorade Duel and the Daytona 500.  Even if the 88 wins the Duel, he’ll still start in the back of the field in the Daytona 500 because he officially qualified in the Daytona 500.  The 56 will start at the rear of the field in the Gatorade Duel.  His position in the 500 will be determined by the Gatorade Duel, because he had not officially qualified for the Daytona 500.  The only two cars that officially qualified for the 500 are the 88 and 24 (Jeff Gordon).

Here is what they had to say after the accident.

Martin Truex Jr. on what happened during practice…Martin Truex:  “It was just an unfortunate situation for all of us.  We’ve got a good car, but it is what it is.  I was working with Brian Vickers there—another Toyota.  We were just getting the switch down and seeing how our cooling system was and how long we could push for.  We were just kind of going back and forth there with the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and the 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) and us two.  We came up and I was being pushed.  The guy behind you can’t see what’s going on.  When I talked to Brian, he had no idea that they wee even checking up.  I saw them kind of wiggling around and getting out of shape and I tried to save it, but the guy pushing and pushing fast and the next thing you, we’re spinning.  It’s unfortunate, but I would rather get it out of the way now and hopefully not wreck in the 500.”

On what did he see ahead of him before the accident…Martin Truex: “Just somebody made a bad decision up ahead.  Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) and Jimmie (Johnson) and me and (Brian) Vickers kind of had our own two-car deals going there.  We were kind of swapping back and forth.  We just had caught some guys that were a lot slower than we were.  For some reason they decided to pull up in front of our little pack coming at them about 20 miles per hour faster than they were going.  It’s just a shame to tear up race cars in practice.  We had a great NAPA Toyota and I’m sure our backup will be just as good.  It’s not really a big hit to our week or anything.  It’s just a lot of extra work that these guys don’t need.  It was easily avoidable by some of the guys out there.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on what happened…Dale Earnhardt Jr.:“We were coming around the corner and there were three guys on the inside and they moved up off the bottom and me and Jimmie (Johnson) had to checkup and I got hit from behind there.”

On what backup car will he use now…Dale Earnhardt Jr.:“The backup car is fine, just as good as the other ones.  They are all kit cars any ways.  The bodies are all the same.  Good motors.  We’ll have plenty of speed, but we have this car; the third car, the fourth car is just as good.  I mean, they are all good.’’

Are you frustrated? Dale Earnhardt Jr.: “Just getting caught up in wrecks. Just feeling a little snake-bit right now, because, I don’t feel like I was really at fault in any of them but we just keep getting in them.”

You said you were nervous about practice, why? Dale Earnhardt Jr.: “Well we have the pole sitting race car, don’t need to practice.”

What is your emotion right now? Dale Earnhardt Jr.: “Get the next one ready.”