Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s dream of his first Sprint Cup championship this season ended in a nightmare two laps from the end of Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
As Greg Biffle moved up the track, he made contact with Earnhardt’s car and several drivers were collected in the process, including David Gilliland, Paul Menard and Michael Annett.
“It’s just Talladega,” team owner Rick Hendrick told ESPN. “You just can’t avoid that when you’re running that close together. … It’s not easy.”
Earnhardt tried to make quick repairs under caution in hopes of climbing back upward in the pack, but barring yet another caution in the second attempt at a green-white-checker, his title hopes are over.
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30 Seconds to Know: How does the Chase Eliminator round work?
The 33-car field of the 104th Indianapolis 500 will be set through the two-day Indy 500 qualifying schedule Saturday and Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Today’s session will determine the nine cars that will compete for the pole position and starting positions 10-30.
On Sunday, the pole position then will be determined in a Fast Nine Shootout (the top nine qualifiers also received NTT IndyCar Series points).
All on-track activity will be on NBC Sports Gold’s IndyCar pass (click here for streaming Saturday and here for Sunday), and Indy 500 qualifying will be on NBC from 3-5 p.m. ET Saturday and Indy 500 pole qualifying from 1-3 p.m. ET on NBC.
Last year, Simon Pagenaud captured the pole position on the way to winning last year’s Indy 500.
Qualifying speeds at Indianapolis Motor Speedway are determined by a four-lap average around the 2.5-mile track.
Here is the Indy 500 qualifying schedule and how to watch on TV:
Saturday, Aug. 15
5:30 a.m. – Garage opens
6 a.m. – Tech inspection
8:30-9:30 a.m. – Indianapolis 500 practice (NBC Sports Gold)
11 a.m.-5 p.m. – Indianapolis 500 qualifying (NBC Sports Gold; NBC coverage from 3-5 p.m.; NBCSN 5-6 p.m.)
7:30 p.m. – Garage closes
Sunday, Aug. 16
8 a.m. – Garage opens
9 a.m. — Tech inspection
11-11:30 a.m. – Indianapolis 500 practice (NBC Sports Gold)
1:15-2:15 p.m. – Fast Nine pole qualifying (NBC begins at 1 p.m., NBC Sports Gold)
3:30-6 p.m. – Indianapolis 500 practice (NBCSN, NBC Sports Gold)