Dale Jr. to start in the back for Daytona 500

Dale Earnhardt Jr. inspects his damaged race car Wednesday during Daytona 500 practice at Daytona
International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)

After a crash during Wednesday's practice, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will have to start the Gatorade Duels on Thursday from the back and unfortunately, he’ll also have to move to the back in time for the green flag to drop for the 2011 Daytona 500.

Although upset at first, Earnhardt, crew chief Steve Letarte and Earnhardt’s public relations representative Mike Davis seem optimistic, according to tweets and posts from various sources. Junior Nation immediately left positive and encouraging messages for their favorite driver on his fan webpage.

Earnhardt Jr. and teammate Jimmie Johnson were drafting when Johnson had to slow down because they approached slower traffic; Earnhardt drove into Johnson, almost spinning him out, but Johnson saved it.

Martin Truex Jr. was coming in from behind and collided with Earnhardt Jr., causing him to spin across the track and slamming into the wall. His car, the No. 88 AMP Energy Chevrolet, was totaled, and he is forced to go to a backup, a chassis used by Jeff Gordon last October for the Talladega race, in which he finished in the eighth position. Earnhardt's wrecked Budweiser Shootout car is undergoing repairs, will be repainted and will become his backup for the Daytona 500 if his Duels car wrecks.

Earnhardt Jr.'s pole position for the Daytona 500 is one of just two starting spots that were locked in for the Daytona 500 after Sunday's qualifying session. Because he is switching to a backup car after his position was locked in, Dale Jr. will be credited with the pole, but he must drop to the rear of the field during the pace laps for Thursday's Duels and Sunday's Daytona 500.

Earnhardt Jr. is running in the first of the Gatorade Duels, to be broadcast at 2 p.m. ET today on SPEED from Daytona International Speedway.
Dale Jr. to start in the back for Daytona 500 Dale Jr. to start in the back for Daytona 500 Reviewed by Unknown on Thursday, February 17, 2011 Rating: 5