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Sidebar Stories: NRA 500

Ill Bobby Labonte Replaced by Michael McDowell

As a stomach bug swept through the NASCAR garage area, Bobby Labonte was one of a few drivers affected between the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series. With his illness, his team had already fitted a seat for Mike Bliss to replace him.

However, after 40 laps, Labonte decided he couldn’t say in the car any longer and drove to the garage. After heading to the Infield Care Center, the team was left scrambling to find a driver as Bliss was still on track. Eventually, they were able to put Michael McDowell after McDowell’s team started and parked.

The No. 47 car finished 42nd after an engine failure.

Hendrick Motorsports Teammates Suffer Long Nights

Hendrick Motorsports drivers Dale Earnhardtm Jr. and Jeff Gordon both had long nights at Texas Motor Speedway.

It started on lap 187 when Dale Earnhardt, Jr. pitted under green because he had lost power. Diagnosing it as a dead battery, Earnhardt Jr. headed to pit road where then the team told Earnhardt to flip the switch to the other battery. Earnhardt could have likely saved the team a lot of trouble afterwards, as the loss of battery caused the tachometer to fail. As a result, Earnhardt couldn’t see his speed heading to pit road. Forced to do a pass thru penalty, crew chief Steve Letarte called Earnhardt in for tires.

Unfortunately for the No. 88 team, NASCAR told the team they were not allowed to make a pitstop while serving a pass through, and again they had to come down pit road. Earnhardt would eventually finish 29th, four laps down.

Meanwhile, teammate Jeff Gordon suffered a broken tire hub with 25 laps to go. Gordon, who was running third, was unable to have the damage repaired and would head to the garage area. He would finish 38th.

Martin Truex Jr.’s Car Fails Post-Race Inspection

Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 56 Toyota was deemed “too low in the front” by NASCAR following Saturday night’s 500 mile race at Texas Motor Speedway. This came just an hour or so removed after Truex’s heartbreaking second-place finish after leading 142 of the 334 laps. An ill-timed and controversial debris caution prevented Truex from going to Victory Lane.

Truex’s crew chief Chad Johnston explained what happened with the car: “We tried to pull the shaft out of the body, and it’s just (stuck). There’s something going on, whether it’s debris (inside) or parts and pieces of the shock.”

Truex could be facing a possible six-point penalty. Kyle Busch received a six-point penalty and a $25,000 fine for his crew chief when he was too low in tech in 2011.

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