By Jared Turner
Can Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s final season get any worse? Apparently so. It certainly did on Saturday night at Bristol. Making his last start at the popular .533-mile short track where he picked up his only win in 2004, Earnhardt Jr. finished an embarrassing 23rd— three laps down. This after qualifying 31st. Now without a top-10 finish in his last eight starts (he’s posted only four top-10s all year), NASCAR’s most popular driver is faced with the seemingly inevitable reality of missing the playoffs in his final season. Earnhardt Jr. continues to stand by crew chief Greg Ives, whom he defended on Twitter after Saturday night’s race. “Not allowing him to take the fall for this,” Junior tweeted about Ives, who joined the No. 88 team in 2015. “There are many reasons a team performs poorly. Rarely is it one person’s fault.”
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