Earnhardt's Nationwide car impounded for altered spoiler

Updated: February 15, 2008, 11:09 AM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway hasn't been perfect for Dale Earnhardt Jr. after all.

The No. 5 car Earnhardt will drive in Saturday's Nationwide Series opener was impounded by NASCAR on Thursday night after officials discovered the team altered the spoiler to create an aerodynamic advantage following inspection.

The car was returned on Friday morning minus the trunk lid and spoiler, repaired and sent back through inspection. It will be allowed to run in the race.

Joe Balash, the Nationwide Series director, said further sanctions against the team and crew chief Chad Walter will be issued on Tuesday. NASCAR officials considered sending Walter home because the offense was considered blatant, but opted to hold off on what could result in a suspension.

Rick Hendrick is listed as the car owner, but the car is co-owned by Hendrick and Earnhardt and run by JR Motorsports in Mooresville, N.C.

Tony Eury Sr., the competition director at JR Motorsports, said Earnhardt and Hendrick weren't "too happy" with what happened. He said the company could take action against Walter on top of what NASCAR does.

"That's not something either of them approve of," Eury Sr. said. "Neither side [NASCAR or Earnhardt] is happy about it."

JR Motorsports officials learned of the incident during the first of Thursday's 150-mile qualifying races for Sunday's Daytona 500. Earnhardt, who won Budweiser Shootout on Saturday, won the race to keep his record at Hendrick Motorsports perfect.

Earnhardt was not told about the infraction until later.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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