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From The Marbles

Dale Earnhardt Jr. crashes and his car catches on fire on lap 13 of Duck Commander 500

FORT WORTH, Texas – The Duck Commander 500 was green for less than three laps before Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in the wall and his car was on fire.

Junior looked to the inside of Aric Almirola along the frontstretch of Texas Motor Speedway and got his left front tire into the infield grass. The move to the grass jarred Earnhardt's car and ripped up the front end of it, shooting him into the outside wall, where his car subsequently caught fire after impact.

After he was released from the infield care center, Junior said he simply made a mistake and didn't see the infield grass. Because of the angle of the posts on the right-front of the car, driver and NBC analyst Jeff Burton said it could be hard to see the infield.

His car also hit the wall in a section of outside barrier at Texas that's not covered by SAFER barrier to help absorb impact. The SAFER barrier along the frontstretch ended past the point of Junior's impact, while the turn one section hadn't started yet. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it needs to be repeated; SAFER barriers should be mandatory on every outside and inside wall where possible.

The monstrous impact contributed to the fire, which was enhanced because of a full fuel load. While Junior's crash came on lap 13, it was only the third lap of green flag competition. After the track was damp because of rains on Sunday, Monday's rain-delayed race started with the first 10 laps under caution to ensure the track was dry.

Junior finished 43rd and last, the first time he hasn't finished a race this season. Including his win in the season-opening Daytona 500, he has four top 10s through first six races

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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