A crash and a flat tire in the last two races have knocked Dale Earnhardt Jr. into the clutches of the ongoing battle among multiple drivers to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
With Earnhardt still winless in 2013 and only 20 points ahead of 11th-place Wild Card holder Kasey Kahne (two wins), his grip on a post-season berth is loosening at the worst possible time.
Before he suffered his tire failure at Michigan – which relegated him to a 36th-place finish – Earnhardt had expressed confidence that he and his team would be where they needed to be when the regular season ended.
But with three races remaining before the Chase, it appears that NASCAR’s most popular driver is getting at least a little troubled about the matter.
“You definitely don’t like to be in this situation,” Earnhardt said according to NASCAR.com while testing at Richmond International Raceway, home to the final race of the regular season, earlier this week.
“I don’t think anybody wants to be on the bubble or be even worried or concerned about points leading up to Richmond, so we hope to have a couple of good weeks and really put ourselves in a pretty comfortable situation before we even come into Richmond.”
Earnhardt, who starts 19th in tonight’s Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, figures that the 500-lap race will come down to being able to hang on to the top end of the grid as the night progresses.
“It’s just going to be a very competitive race,” he said yesterday. “Everybody runs the same speed. It’s just going to be whoever can be up front and get track position.”
And, of course, stay out of the mayhem that so often pays a visit to Bristol. Should Earnhardt get caught in a pile-up or run into another form of trouble on the tight half-mile, then the pressure already on him to make the Chase will only grow further.
Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Vettel are the two most decorated drivers currently on the Formula 1 grid, with seven World Championships between them (four for Vettel, and three for Hamilton).
However, their paths have rarely crossed on the track, and only in 2010 did both drivers battle each for a World Championship in the same year. They also battled Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber that year, with Vettel emerging on top to claim his first World Championship.
However, the 2017 season sees Hamilton and Vettel in the two best cars on the grid, and they have gone head-to-head multiple times already this year, with each claiming two victories through the first five races. Currently, Vettel leads Hamilton 104-98 in the world championship, and the two men are developing a strong on-track rivalry.
Monaco Grand Prix coverage continues with FP3 and qualifying on Saturday. Full times are linked here.
In Friday’s NASCAR AMERICA Motorsports Special on NBCSN, we take you behind the scenes during F1 superstar Fernando Alonso’s qualifying runs for the Indy 500, including when he was on the pole for a brief period. He’ll eventually start fifth.
On Friday’s NASCAR AMERICA Motorsports Special on NBCSN, Parker Kligerman and his backseat driver, Kyle Petty, took to the iRacing simulator to make a mock run around Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.
They look at the challenges of IMS, as well as the challenges two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso will face in the first oval track race in his illustrious career. Alonso is among the favorites in the race and will take the green flag from the middle of Row 2 (fifth position).
Check out the above video.
Sunday is the biggest day of the year in motorsports, starting in the morning with Formula 1’s legendary Monaco Grand Prix.
Then, at Noon ET, it’s the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The final part of the tripleheader of racing is NASCAR’s longest race of the season, the 400-lap, 600-mile Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Newly-named NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018 inductee Ken Squier gives you a great primer for what promises to be a memorable day around the world (see video above).