DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Dale Earnhardt Jr. scraped the wall in a race billed as his final Cup Series start at Daytona International Speedway.
NASCAR's most popular driver felt like his right rear tire was going flat as he entered a turn, started to slow and then brushed the wall and flattened the right front tire.
He made his way to pit row, but lost two laps while getting repairs. The damage likely will end Earnhardt's chances of picking up his 18th career victory at the famed speedway.
Earnhardt was the pole-sitter and overwhelming favorite to win the Saturday night race at Daytona. He clearly had one of the fastest cars in the field and spent much of the first two stages up front.
Earnhardt announced in April that this would be his final full-time season in NASCAR's top series. He plans to drive a handful of races in the second-tier Xfinity Series, but has not committed to running at Daytona again.