Earnhardt Jr. crew mistake may have cost 88 team a win

FORT WORTH, TX - APRIL 13:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 13, 2013 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for Texs Motor Speedway)

FORT WORTH, TX – APRIL 13: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 13, 2013 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for Texs Motor Speedway)

FORT WORTH, Tex.–Dale Earnhardt Jr. had his worst finish of the season Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway after his Hendrick Motorsports Chevy lost power.

While Earnhardt Jr. was running third during the NRA 500, he was forced to pit when his car suddenly lost electrical power.

“We just had a battery go dead and didn’t diagnosis it correctly to just switch it,” said Earnhardt Jr. “We have two batteries in there was have a switch in the driver’s seat that goes from one to two. I didn’t it know it was a battery until we got down on pit road.”

Because of he had no power, he couldn’t tell how fast he was going, speeding into the pit stop.  So NASCAR slammed him with a penalty, forcing him to come in for a stop and go.

“Yeah, all the gauges went bad. All the gauges just went haywire and so I couldn’t read the gauges to really diagnose what was happening,” said Earnhardt Jr. “but once you start to think about it you are like, ‘well if all the gauges are going bad we have an electrical issue.’”

But when Earnhardt came in to serve his stop and go penalty, his crew chief Steve LeTarte told the crew to change the tires on the No. 88 Chevy.  Under NASCAR’s rules crews can’t change tires during a stop and go penalty.  Earnhardt was forced come back in again. When all was said and done Earnhardt was a total of four laps behind.

“It’s just I don’t know what else we could have done different aside from me understanding better what was going on with the car and diagnosing it on the race track, and switching to the second battery and not losing any laps,” said Earnhardt Jr. “It was just my mistake. You know things just break on these cars; you don’t know right away what it is and it’s just real easy to have hindsight and say ‘man you know that was pretty simple.’”

Earnhardt finished 29th. Last weekend, he finished 24th during the STP 500 at Martinsville, Virginia. But Earnhardt was still optimistic despite a bad couple of weeks.

“It has been rough, but we had a really good car tonight,” Earnhardt said.  “If we were running bad and having these kinds of nights we would have a hard time making that Chase, but running good eventually things will turn back around for us.  We will get going.  We have a lot of confidence.  We’ve got a lot of positive attitude and feel like we will have no problem rebounding.”

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