Spoiled Celebration For Earnhardt

It wasn't a very happy birthday weekend for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. who ended his night in the Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway with a cut tire and a trip into the wall.

After celebrating his 34th birthday on Friday, Earnhardt, Jr. had high hopes for a good weekend at what he considers one of his favorite tracks on the schedule.

But those dreams came crashing down on lap 103 of Saturday night's race when a right front tire failed sending Earnhardt Jr. hard into the outside retaining wall.

"Unbelievable," said crew chief Tony Eury Jr. "Pitting in one lap."

"I wasn't running real hard at all," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I was actually taking it pretty easy. [The tire] just popped. I don't know. There had been a couple of wrecks in that corner. No telling what might have been laying under there.

"We had a real good car and I was just taking it easy, real easy. I have to thank my guys and Hendrick and all the employees. The put together some good race cars. We just have had such bad luck. I am just ready to shake it."

And so Earnhardt's miserable Chase season dragged on and ended in a 36th-place finish at Charlotte only a week after getting caught in a major accident at Talladega.

He has dropped to 10th in the standings and is 354 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.

"It is pretty disappointing because I was just taking it pretty easy," Earnhardt Jr. said. "We ran real, real hard here in the spring and worked our car too hard. I was just going to take care of the race car, that was what I was trying to do. We just got some bad luck there."

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