Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s steering wheel pops off during disastrous afternoon at Talladega

May 1, 2016; Talladega, AL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88) gets involved in a wreck during the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
May 1, 2016; Talladega, AL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88) gets involved in a wreck during the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

May 1, 2016; Talladega, AL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88) gets involved in a wreck during the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Amelia’s return in Talladega ended in almost identical fashion to her last ride in Daytona. Dale Earnhardt Jr. lost control of his No. 88 Nationwide ride on Lap 50 and ended his day after slamming into teammate Kasey Kahne and hitting the wall.

Earnhardt ducked down to the low line, but Amelia had other plans. The No. 88 turned sideways and headed to the garage in a mangled heap, similar to his wreck in the Daytona 500.

“We missed something this morning,” Earnhardt said following the wreck. “It shouldn’t have been on the splitter that hard. … We’ve just got to look at our adjustments a little different.” The Hendrick Motorsports driver also admitted on the radio that he “just lost it” before the spin.

Junior returned to the track, wrecking again and heading back to the garage after hard contact with Carl Edwards. Before he got caught up with Edwards, Earnhardt also lost control of something else — his steering wheel.

For Earnhardt, the wreck means he loses a chance to seal a Chase berth with a potential win. After winning this race next year, he’ll have just one more shot at a superseedway victory in Daytona during the summer.

 

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