Dale Earnhardt Jr. able to laugh after crashing at Kansas

KANSAS CITY, KS - OCTOBER 05:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, drives with damage after crashing during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on October 5, 2014 in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, KS – OCTOBER 05: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, drives with damage after crashing during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on October 5, 2014 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. saw his hopes of a NASCAR Sprint Cup title take a big hit Sunday. Earnhardt started the Hollywood Casino 400 eighth, and after a somewhat mediocre weekend at Kansas Speedway surprised many when he charged to the lead on lap 76 from third place. Suddenly it looked as though NASCAR’s most popular driver could go all the way.

Earnhardt, who finished fifth here in the spring and eighth in this race last year, held the lead for the next 45 laps. It appeared that Earnhardt was the class of the field and well on his way to victory. On lap 122 just prior to the halfway point however, Earnhardt saw his hopes for a win disappear when the left front tire on his Hendrick Motorsports Chevy explode just as he was exiting turn 4. He hit the wall hard and slowly made his way back around the track and to the garage.

“I was going into Turn 3 and the surface of the tire unwound all the way across the surface,” he said as the crew worked on getting the car back out. MORE>>>

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