Junior takes the blame for post-race pileup
February 22, 2014, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
But the NASCAR Nationwide Series team owner/driver said, "I really didn't have anywhere to go."
Contact from Earnhardt Jr. put Kyle Larson out of shape, and spillover from that collected Joe Nemechek, Ryan Sieg and James Buescher after the field had taken the checkered flag. Nemechek's Toyota spun back up the track and was hit hard from behind by the Ford of Ryan Reed.
"We were coming to the finish line and the 42 (of Larson) was shoving me pretty good," said Earnhardt Jr. " … I got down on the apron and was trying not to come back on the race track and get quarter-paneled and have a big wreck there.
"We were slowing down and I was looking all around, trying to figure out where everybody was … and I ran into the back of (Larson) and wrecked the 87 (Nemechek) and 39 (Sieg)."
Sieg had crossed the line ninth at the end of the 201-lap event, which was extended by a green-white-checkered finish. Earnhardt Jr. was 11th, Nemechek 12th and Reed 18th.
Regan Smith, who drives for Earnhardt Jr.'s JR Motorsports organization, won the race.
"Totally my fault," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I really just wasn't paying attention. I hate it for Joe and those guys because they don't need to be tearing up race cars."
In Victory Lane afterward to congratulate his winning driver, Earnhardt Jr. told ESPN that he would have his JRM group put new bodies on the damaged cars. "They want a body, they can send their car over there and I'll put a new body on it," he said. "Get Joe to send his over there, we'll put a body on it, too."
Reed said he had no idea what happened to initiate the crash.
“Definitely had enough of the infield care center for the weekend," the Roush Fenway Racing driver said after being checked and released following the race. "It just sucks because we tore up a perfectly good race car. …
"It was a battle all day; I went a lap down and the guys did a good job to get me back on the lead lap … I thought we were going to have a good shot for at least a top-15 (finish) and then the bottom lane just gave up. I think the 2 (of Brian Scott) bailed on me there at the end."
Reed said he did not expect to see Nemechek's car spin back up the track and into his path.
"It surprised me more than anything," Reed said, "because he slid up in from of me at the last second. Really I had nowhere to go. But I'm fine."