February 16, 2011
Earnhardt Jr. wrecks car in Daytona practice
By DEAN McNULTY,QMI Agency
DAYTONA — If Dale Earnhardt Jr. had any luck at all it would be all bad.
Not only is he 90-some races removed from his last NASCAR Sprint Cup win at Michigan International Speedway, but his comeback attempt at Daytona this week has been stalled.
After putting his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet on the pole in qualifying for Sunday’s Daytona 500, Earnhardt was involved in a wreck with Martin Truex Jr. during practice Wednesday, forcing his team to go to a back-up car for Thursday’s second round of qualifying.
According to NASCAR rules, that means he loses his No. 1 starting spot on Sunday and instead will start from the rear in his Gatorade Duel 150-mile qualifying race Thursday as well as in the 500.
Earnhardt blamed Truex for the crash.
“You got to pay attention out there, man,” he said.”I mean if you’re going to come out here and race, you need to pay attention.”
NASCAR Sprint Cup star Brian Vickers, who has spent most of the past season recovering from blood clot surgery, has caused some ill feelings in the garage area after an in-depth interview with Maxim Magazine this month.
And four-time champion Jeff Gordon is none too pleased about the outcome.
The magazine story describes Vickers’ hard partying during his rehabilitation. At one point in the piece, when Vickers and author Mike Guy were visiting a New York nightclub, Vickers called Gordon and tried to convince him to join them.
When Gordon said he wasn’t interested, Vickers said, “(Expletive) Gordon. He used to be a lot of fun.”
Gordon was angry about the story and the phone call.
“All I can say is, that’s not for me,” Gordon told The Sporting News. “I’ve had great times over the years, but you know I’m a family guy, and I try to represent my sponsors in a way they’d like to be represented. And it’s different for him. He’s young. He’s single. He’s got Red Bull as his sponsor, so I don’t know how they would perceive it.
“What I was going to say to him is that, the next time he’s out with a writer from Maxim Magazine, and he’s having a good time, he can forget my phone number — about calling me to join them.”
CANUCK IN MOTION
Florida threw a curveball at Canada’s J.R. Fitzpatrick at the Daytona International Speedway Wednesday with rain delaying much of the scheduled on-track practice ahead of Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide race.
Fitzpatrick finally emerged late afternoon turning his first laps at the legendary 2.5-mile tri-oval track behind the wheel of the No. 27 Baker Curb Racing Ford Mustang.
“I’m happier with the car after the last practice session,” Fitzpatrick said.
“I had the chance to work with Kyle Busch for a bit there and learned a lot about what we need for final practice tomorrow. Overall, with the weather, it wasn’t really the day we were hoping for but those things are out of our control. I’m grateful we got track time today and I’m looking forward to digesting a few more things overnight ahead of tomorrow’s final sessions.”