NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. was forced out of the Daytona 500 on Sunday when he spun out and crashed toward the end of the race.
Fox Sports provided footage of his abrupt exit from the race:
FOX Sports @FOXSports
Today's #DAYTONA500 favorite is out of the race! @DaleJr climbs out under caution. 29 laps to go. #NASCAR https://t.co/oAa1vo2sJW2016-2-21 21:12:54
Jared Turner of Fox Sports noted Earnhardt had "rallied back into the top 10 and seemed to be surging" at the time of the crash.
“We were up there around fifth or sixth there and we spun out moving forward,” Earnhardt Jr. said, via Turner. “We had passed about four or five cars there in the last three or four laps. We were making some ground.”
ESPN.com's Bob Pockrass reported Earnhardt managed to get out of the car and appeared to be OK after the accident. The veteran driver won the Daytona 500 in 2004 and again in 2014.
It is especially disappointing for Earnhardt to be eliminated in such a fashion at Daytona International Speedway, considering how well he'd fared in his prior outings, per ESPN Stats & Info:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 3rd at #DAYTONA500 last year, his 4th straight top-3 finish 2nd driver to do so at Daytona 500 (Benny Parsons)2016-2-21 18:39:11
If anyone had the goods to make a late run for the checkered flag Sunday, it was Junior. He won the Can-Am Duel qualifier race at Daytona to give him a starting position of third, but the ideal spot on the grid didn't leave him immune to the perils that befall every driver at some point.
The Great American Race only comes around once every year, but perhaps Earnhardt can use his unfortunate incident as motivational fuel moving forward.
Having never won a Sprint Cup championship, the 41-year-old still has that incentive to keep going at this stage of his career.
Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson has racked up six Sprint Cup titles. Earnhardt would further cement his legendary status with one to go with a fantastic Daytona legacy.