MENCS: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Faces Uphill Challenge at Richmond


In his final season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is facing an uphill battle as he enters the final race of the regular season, a season that he is currently on the outside looking in the playoff picture.

Currently ranked 22nd in the standings with one top-five and four top-ten finishes on the season, NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver may be without his crew chief Greg Ives for the regular-season finale.

Coming off a 22nd place finish in Sunday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway Earnhardt’s night got even worse post-race. After the race, NASCAR officials found two lug nuts unsecured on his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

Per the NASCAR Rule Book, two unsecured lug nuts will result in a $20,000 fine and one-race suspension for the crew chief. That means Ives likely will miss the regular-season finale at Richmond Raceway, the final chance for Earnhardt to win and punch his ticket to the playoffs in his last season.

“We’ll work through that,” Earnhardt said on his Periscope after the race. “It doesn’t concern me about this team. This team can handle this type of stuff. Greg can handle it. He’s a tough guy. We’ll get through that. It happens.”

In 35 MENCS starts at Richmond, Earnhardt has three wins, with his last coming in 2012, 10 top-five and 14 top-ten finishes. He has an average finish of 13.7 at the ¾ mile track.

NASCAR typically announces any official penalties mid-week.

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About Jacob Mullins

Jacob Mullins serves as the managing editor and senior NASCAR writer covering all three national touring series's. You can find him on on Twitter at @JMulls15. An intercollegiate athletic administrator by trade, Mullins can be found at the big tracks as well as the local short tracks in the Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania area. Mullins enjoys social media, photography and graphic design. A native of West Chester, Pennsylvania, Mullins follows all forms of racing, Major League Baseball (Baltimore Orioles) and college football (Virginia Tech Hokies).

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