Race Weekend Central

Dale Earnhardt Jr., ‘Amelia’ Lost in Early Talladega Tussle

Amelia’s return was short-lived.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was running 10th on lap 50 of Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway when he lost control of his machine off of Turn 2. The six-time Talladega winner crashed into the outside wall, taking Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne and Matt DiBenedetto with him.

Driving ‘Amelia’, a car nicknamed by Earnhardt during a run that included wins at Talladega and Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver entered the weekend as a favorite to win. However, in a similar tale to February’s Daytona 500, Earnhardt got loose off of a turn and was left driving to the garage with damage.

“We were real tight the whole first run,” said Earnhardt after the crash. “We took some rounds out of the back and that made the car too loose off of the corner — same thing we did in Daytona. We just have to look at our adjustments a little different.

“It gets loose, the car wasn’t driving really well. It was on the splitter real bad. Really, really bad the first run and that run. Tight through the center on the splitter and it swings the back on exit. Then you’re in the pack, in the middle of that air with no downforce on the back of the car at it gets loose.”

Kahne and DiBenedetto also fell victim to the crash. Both drivers made contact with Earnhardt’s car as he careened up the track.

All three drivers made their way to the garage area for repairs following the incident.

Surprisingly, Earnhardt’s incident also had an effect on another teammate in rookie Chase Elliott. Elliott was attempting to slow down to voice the crash when he was hit from behind by Austin Dillon. Elliott sustained damage to his rear fender as a result of the incident.

The defending spring winner at Talladega, Earnhardt is one victory from surpassing Jeff Gordon for second on the track’s all-time wins list and moving within three wins of his father, Dale Earnhardt. He’ll get another shot at the mark when the series returns to Talladega in October as part of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Update: Earnhardt Looses Steering Wheel, Gets Caught Up in Second Wreck

It’s been a long day for NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver.

Shortly after returning to the track from his mid-race accident, Earnhardt was maneuvering around the 2.66-mile oval when his steering wheel suddenly popped off of the car.

Keeping his cool, Earnhardt managed to control the vehicle using his hand before reinserting the wheel.

Earnhardt’s troubles didn’t end there, either. He was later involved in another incident with Carl Edwards, finally ending Amelia’s run.

About the author

A graduate of Ball State, Aaron rejoins Frontstretch for his second season in 2016 following a successful year that included covering seven races and starting the popular "Two-Headed Monster" column in 2015. Now in his third year of covering motorsports, Aaron serves as an Assistant Editor for Frontstretch while also contributing to other popular sites including Speed51 and The Apex. He encourages you to come say hi when you see him at the track.

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