Last-Place Finisher: Dale Jr. has brake, tire issues

By Aaron Burns

Dale Earnhardt Jr. began the 2015 Sprint Cup season on a tear, posting three consecutive top-five finishes.

It all went downhill Sunday at Phoenix Int’l Raceway.

Earnhardt was busted for speeding on pit road while running in the top 15 early, then made his way up to 21st before a blown right-rear tire sent his No. 88 Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet SS into the wall. He ended up 43rd.

Earnhardt said the culprit was more than just a tire. It was a loose-handling condition, coupled with overheating brakes.

The good news for Earnhardt? He won’t need to brake as much next week at Auto Club Speedway.