Tough Luck for Earnhardt Jr., Kahne
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone on June 16, 2013 | 4:03 P.M. EST
Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. saw a potential day in Victory Lane end in disappointment. (Photo: Getty Images)
BROOKLYN, Mich.Frustrating Season Continues for Gordon - Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne saw a potential day in Victory Lane end in disappointment Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.
Earnhardt Jr. was trying to score a second consecutive Quicken Loans 400 win and had worked himself into the top spot after starting the day 12th. But after building up more than a four second lead, the engine in Earnhardt’s Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet went sour and the No. 88 was forced behind the wall on lap 131.
“No there was no warning at all even after I think we lost a cylinder,” said a dejected Earnhardt after climbing from the car. “The gauges all looked really good. Flipped all the switches I could flip and nothing was really making a difference. We just had something come apart in the motor.”
It was the second time in recent weeks Earnhardt suffered an engine issue with another problem coming last month at Charlotte. However Earnhardt is not concerned about the future.
“They’ll figure it out and we’ll get it sorted and we’ll be able to come back here and expect to run strong again,” said Earnhardt. “I just hate it. Hendrick Motorsports, they work harder than anyone in the business. They’re the best company in the business and we ought to be out there running up front still, but we’ll get it eventually.”
Kahne took the green flag from the third spot and was the talk of the garage all morning as a strong competitor to win Sunday’s first of two visits to the two-mile oval. He had his Farmer’s Insurance Chevy at the front of the field until disaster struck on lap 105 when he slammed the second turn wall with such force a fire broke out under the hood of the car.
Kahne was uninjured in the accident but disappointed with how his day ended.
“Something broke,” Kahne explained. “I don’t really know. I would say it was a tire that went down, but I don’t know for sure. I just was going into the corner and then it ‘boom’ and turned right went straight into the wall. It was a hard hit.”
The turn of events added to an already difficult week for Kahne, who continues to mourn the loss of his close friend Jason Leffler, who was killed in a sprint car crash last week.
“Jason Leffler was a good buddy of mine and it’s neat to see how the racing world and the fans and his friends and everybody has supported him for the last four or five days,” said Kahne. “That showed the person and the racer that he was. I’m just glad I could say he was one of my good friends.”