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Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Pocono race ends early after blown engine

RELATED: Why Junior started at the rear | Dale Jr.’s stats by track

History repeated itself this weekend for Dale Earnhardt Jr. as an engine issue brought on by a bad shift ended his day in the Axalta presents the Pocono 400 and resulted in a 38th-place finish.

A two-time winner at Pocono, Earnhardt entered this race with six top-five finishes in his last seven starts at the 2.5-mile track. However, the weekend started off rocky when the No. 88 team had to change engines on Friday.

After missing a shift Sunday on Lap 57, Dale Jr. said over the radio: “I don’t know what it is about the shifter this week, but it’s not natural to me.”

This race marked the second DNF for Earnhardt in 34 starts at Pocono.

RELATED: Dale Jr. frustrated by Pocono weekend

“It’s going in the wrong gear,” a dejected Earnhardt Jr. told FS1 on the race broadcast. “I wish I could blame it on something else, because it’s awful. It feels awful.

“It’s just my fault. I wish I could say that the shifter is different and something’s out of line. This really concerns me. … I don’t really have an answer other than me having to pay more attention.”

Crew chief Greg Ives came over the radio to offer encouragement as the team will move on to Michigan, a place where Junior has two wins.

“We’re going to go to Michigan. We will be fine,” Ives said.