Last year’s spring Talladega NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner, Dale Earnhardt Jr., will probably not be anywhere near the top this time around after a hard hit sent him to the garage. Earnhardt’s car got loose as he tried to move between two others, sending him into the barriers.
Earnhardt’s No. 88 spun out into teammate Kasey Kahne and tagged Matt DiBenedetto on his way up to the outer wall.
The race had been entirely green until then, which finally gave injured racer Tony Stewart the chance to hop out of the car to let Ty Dillon take over. Stewart’s spotter noticed how close he was to the wreck—right up front.
Stewart worked out a deal with his doctor to be able to start Talladega and then hand the No. 14 over to Ty Dillon after his doctor initially recommended that Stewart not participate at all. Stewart opted to stay in the car through a green flag pit stop earlier, however, this yellow gave him the opportunity to swap drivers. Because he started the race, Stewart will get the credit for Dillion’s finish today.
Earnhardt’s car, however, had to retire to the garages.
UPDATE: Earnhardt returned from the garage on lap 96.
UPDATE #2: Sadly, Earnhardt was collected by the out of control car of Carl Edwards shortly afterwards on lap 110, officially retiring him for the day.
Edwards had a right front vibration that he was eventually going to bring into the pits for repairs. That previous damage wouldn’t hold up that long, though, and caused him to lose control of his car.
Edwards and Earnhardt have both been released from the infield care center.