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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Finishes 24th At Daytona 500

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Daytona 500 was shaping up for a memorable finish on the 10th anniversary weekend of his father's death in the same race.

Ultimately, it just wasn't meant to be.

Earnhardt Jr. was caught up in a wreck with Ryan Newman, AJ Allmendinger and Martin Truex Jr. during the first green-white-checkered laps, relegating him to a 24th-place finish.

NASCAR's most popular driver was among the top six cars with 10 laps remaining in regulation, but he cut one of his tires while going through the grass to avoid a wreck with three to go.

Then, as Earnhardt Jr. had said during the race, he was caught "in the shit."

"We got a flat tire and got ourselves in the back there and I was coming around (Turns) One and Two and all those guys were running into the back of each other on the inside and it was crazy," he said. "The 7 got turned down in the apron and they had a wreck.

"Some guys got into the wall on the outside and I was just trying to avoid that and got to the center there and got hooked in the right rear."

It was just the wrong place at the wrong time for Earnhardt Jr., who had hoped for a better start with his new team and crew chief Steve Letarte.

"We've had some pretty tough luck down here," he said.

Earnhardt Jr. said his car was plenty fast – as evidenced by his leading on three different occasions during the race. But he couldn't avoid the chaos of the final laps.

"We tried to do the best we could today, but it came down to all the carnage out there," he said. "Too much carnage out there."