Illustration for article titled Dale Earnhardt Jr.s Tire Burst Into Flame After It Exploded

Phoenix International Raceway hasn't been kind to right rear tires during today's 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Sam Hornish Jr. ate the wall earlier after his right rear tire failed, but it was Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s tire that was the most explosive failure of them all.

Here's the video of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s tire failure. You can see the tire fail, causing the car's back end to get loose as he comes out of a turn. Once that rump is swinging out there, the car hits the wall tail-first, sending Dale Jr. down the banking in front of oncoming race traffic. Dale Jr.'s bumper becomes a giant waving warning flag as it's ripped loose from the right side of the car.


The onboard is even nuttier—you can hear the blown tire clunk immediately as soon as it let go. The car squirmed a lot once it became a NASCAR tripod and then boom! Wall hit.

Of course, the nuttiest view of them all is the slow-mo FireCam the broadcast cuts to afterwards. That wasn't just a bunch of clunking for your average tire 'splosion. That was a violent enough blow to set the rear of Dale Jr.'s car on fire.

Fortunately, the other cars on track were able to avoid Dale Jr.'s car as they came around, but the debris left from the wreck and resulting chaos caused a yellow flag for a while.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. blames car setup for his blown tire, not the tires themselves.

"You just can't abuse it. We were really, really loose and abused the tire," Earnhardt Jr. told USA Today. "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."


Goodyear told USA Today that the tire that done blow'd up had a melted bead from excessive brake heat, which was the likely source of the blaze.


This crash ends Dale Jr.'s streak of top-five finishes this season. The blaze set off the car's fire system which needs to be full and working in order to race, so unfortunately, they will be unable to get the car back out to run more laps.

[H/T Tim Burke for mad video capture skills]

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