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Dale Earnhardt Jr

February 20, 2011 by staff 

Dale Earnhardt Jr, (AP) – Hendrick Motorsports had a rough start for the Daytona 500. Three of the four coaches of the team, including five-time defending Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson were involved in a car accident earlier in the 14-500-mile race Sunday. Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon, who started on the first line, and veteran Mark Martin also suffered damage in the melee.

The fourth Hendrick entry, fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr., avoiding the mess and ran with the leaders. His teammates were not so lucky. Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet was crumpled front and rear, forcing the team to the garage area for major repairs. He returned to the race 30 laps, basically running for points, while extending his streak to 66 races without a win. “It’s not really important at this stage,” said Gordon. “Our chances of winning the Daytona 500 are over. This is the part disappointing. ”

Johnson’s No. 48 car also requires lengthy repairs. He returned to the track 18 laps down. Martin had fewer problems. His team worked on his No. 5 car in the pits. However, Martin fell three laps behind the leaders and looked like he would have extended his streak without a victory in the Daytona 500.

But Martin made a comeback. He took the NASCAR rule free pass to get back on the lead lap and ran in the top 10 with about 50 laps to go. Gordon, meanwhile, questioned the aggressiveness of his fellow pilots, saying the tandems of two cars that have become the norm during Speedweeks dici were provided to nearly 200 mph. “What I do not understand why guys make it three wide, running three deep for 28,” Gordon said. “They need to leave a little thin. As soon as it thins, so go ahead, and it can be very safe and very evil-free.

“But you see, and they push and jostle up amid the back straight, and you’re like,” What are they? ” Twice winner of the Daytona 500, Waltrip started the accident by running into the back of his teammate David Reutimann. Waltrip team owner. Reutimann spun sideways and collected several cars in his wake, including several favorites.

“You will see a lot more than what we have seen,” predicts Gordon. The crash ended an otherwise solid Speedweeks for Hendrick Motorsports. Earnhardt and Gordon were on the first line, after a promising start team owner Rick Hendrick made significant changes to its organization in the offseason. Although Johnson won his fifth consecutive title, said his team has fallen far behind Hendrick in 2010. Gordon, Martin and Earnhardt Jr. were winless.

The poor performance comes a year after Johnson, Martin and Gordon Hendrick gave an unprecedented sweep of the top three spots in the final points.

So Hendrick responded by moving everyone except Johnson and longtime chief Chad Knaus team.

Earnhardt, who has one victory in three seasons with Hendrick Motorsports, has been paired with crew chief for Gordon, Steve Letarte. Earnhardt moved into the same shop that Johnson and Knaus and Letarte Hendrick believes strong personality will help rebuild the lost confidence of the most popular driver in NASCAR.

Gordon has been teamed with crew chief for Martin, Alan Gustafson.

Martin switched to Earnhardt crew chief, Lance McGrew.

Johnson’s team also received an adjustment. Hendrick has rocked Johnson pit crew together in the hope of setting the most significant gap in the armor of the defending champion.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

[Source: image via RACINGNEWSDIGEST.COM]

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