DAYTONA BEACH (AP) - Dale Earnhardt Jr. wrecked his pole-winning car in practice Wednesday and will have to start at the back of the pack for the Daytona 500.
Earnhardt was pushing Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson in practice when Johnson had to slow down for slower-moving traffic in front of him. Earnhardt plowed into Johnson's back bumper and turned him sideways.
A second pack of cars led by Martin Truex Jr. closed quickly on Earnhardt's bumper, causing the No. 88 Chevrolet to spin across the track and into the inside wall.
Johnson said he had to slow down suddenly when a pack of three cars ahead of them on the track - driven by Robby Gordon, Michael Waltrip and David Gilliland - drifted high from the bottom of the track toward the top.
"I was running out of space, and I thought that hole was going to close, and I lifted, and I got turned sideways from behind," Johnson said.
The accident was a function of the two-car drafting that is the fastest way around Daytona International Speedway this year. Working together, two cars are so much faster than a single car or a larger pack that other drivers have to watch the closing speed of the cars coming up behind them.
It is the third car Earnhardt has used during Daytona Speedweeks. He also wrecked one in last weekend's exhibition Budweiser Shootout.