FORT WORTH -- Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson were involved in the first caution of Monday's rain-delayed Duck Commander 500 with NASCAR's most popular driver taking the blame.
Earnhardt clipped the frontstretch grass on the 12thlap, blowing out the left-front tire in his No. 88 Chevrolet. He slammed the outside wall, and his car caught fire while limping to the turn 2 apron with heavy front-end damage. Earnhardt scrambled out of the car quickly and said he didn't realize his car was headed into the grass because his vision was obscured.
"I just didn't see the grass, didn't know the grass was there that close," he said in a Fox interview. "The way the A post is in these cars, you can't really see that good to that angle. I didn't have a good visual where the grass is. That's all.
"You can't run through (the grass) the way we've got these cars on the ground. Just a mistake on my part."
Johnson, who had started 16th, was running behind Earnhardt when the incident happened, and his No. 48 Chevrolet sustained damage to the windshield and front end. He restarted the race in 42nd after several pit stops for repairs – just ahead of Earnhardt, whose team was trying to fix the damage to send his car back on the track.
Texas will mark Earnhardt's worst finish of 2014. He had finished in the top five in four of the first six races.
Johnson already had an eventful race before the accident. He was one of several drivers whose hood flaps popped open because of jet dryers working on the track when the race started with 10 laps of caution. Brad Keselowski needed multiple pit stops to repair hood damage to his No. 2 Ford from the jet dryers.