NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
 
       === Earnhardt Jr., Harvick out early in Texas Sprint Cup race ===
 
 Fort  Worth, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick had
 their  race  end early  in Monday's  rain-delayed Duck  Commander 500 at Texas
 Motor Speedway.
 
 This  500-mile  race at Texas was  scheduled for Sunday, but inclement weather
 postponed  it until the following day. Earnhardt, who entered the event as the
 points  leader, crashed  hard into the turn 1  wall on lap 13. The rear of his
 No.  88 Hendrick  Motorsports Chevrolet  erupted into  flames. He  immediately
 climbed   out  his  heavily-damaged  car,  as  track  safety  workers  quickly
 extinguished the fire.
 
 While running right behind Aric Almirola, Earnhardt dropped down the track and
 ran  on the infield grass along the front straightaway, which caused damage to
 his left-front tire. He shot up the track before smacking the wall.
 
 "Just  ran into  the grass  on  the apron  on the  front straightaway  there,"
 Earnhardt  said.  "I was following  the 43 [Almirola]  and just didn't see the
 grass.  Didn't know the grass was down there that close...I really didn't have
 a  good  visual where the  grass was  and just got  down in there pretty good.
 That's awful."
 
 Earnhardt's  car was  damaged beyond repair. He will end up finishing 43rd. It
 was  his first DNF (did not finish) since last September at Chicagoland -- the
 first  race in the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Earnhardt began
 this season by winning the Feb. 23 Daytona 500.
 
 "You  can't run through there [grass] with the way we've got these cars on the
 ground  like that," Earnhardt added. "Just a mistake on my part. I just didn't
 know I was that close to the grass and made a mistake."
 
 Jimmie  Johnson, the six-time and defending Sprint Cup champion and three-time
 race  winner at Texas,  was behind his teammate, Earnhardt, at the time of the
 incident.  Debris from  Earnhardt's car  caused  damage to  the windshield  on
 Johnson's  No.  48 Chevrolet, forcing  him to  pit multiple times for repairs.
 Johnson later suffered a flat tire, putting him three laps down.
 
 Harvick  suffered engine failure  on lap 29, which put him out of the race. He
 was  running  second to pole sitter  and then leader Tony Stewart. Harvick did
 not  comment on his  race, as he quickly left the track in disgust. The driver
 of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet will finish 42nd. He won at Phoenix
 on March 2 but has finished 36th or worse in four of the past five races.
 
 04/07 13:47:43 ET

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