CUP: Earnhardt Jr. Bemoans Darlington

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was so frustrated with his battle with Darlington Raceway Friday that he jokingly said that the tough old speedway might be the cause of his retirement.

Earnhardt Jr. hit the wall early in the first of two scheduled practices for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series teams Friday and had to go to a backup car. Then he hit it again before that session was over.

“I don’t know man. This place will probably be the catalyst to my retirement one day,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I will probably come here when I am 45, run a race and say the hell with it.

“It’s miserable hot here during Friday; it is a difficult track to drive around. Not one of my favorites, but I’ve run all right here before; we just have to figure out how to get the car where we like it and get some luck.”

Earnhardt Jr. hit the wall on his second lap, and then scraped it again later.

“We’re fine. I’ll probably hit is a bunch more before the weekend is over with,” the Hendrick Motorsports driver said, laughing.

He wasn’t the only driver to wreck during practice as eight teams went to backup cars before qualifying.

“It is slick,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I mean, I got my car pretty comfortable. I liked my lap times. Wish I could get a little more comfort in the car.

“You know, we are just getting on the edge right there. This track is real smooth and you can find that edge. … The car just really changes a lot as you are going around the corner and it can just snap on you, it is real easy.”

Earnhardt Jr. needs a good finish after last week’s 32nd-place finish at Richmond, which caused him to fall outside the top 12 in points.

He doesn’t sound too confident, though, at a track where he has seven top-10 finishes. He qualified 19th.

“I don’t know what to expect and I don’t know if anybody really does,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “We didn’t run good at all here last year and I didn’t’ run with Lance [McGrew, crew chief], so we kind of came here with something totally different and we were too free and ended up wrecking that car.

“We got it dialed in pretty good, pretty close. We would have liked to have a little more time; this car we are driving now feels pretty good. The setup is entirely different from what we ran last year. I hope we will run better.” • Double-file restarts, a green-white-checkered finish could be tricky at tough old Darlington

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