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BROOKLYN, Mich. – Despite qualifying 27th, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was optimistic about his chances Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

He was knocking on the door of the top 20 as the first 60 laps of the event elapsed.

“We had a pretty good car,” Earnhardt said. “We were just kind of taking our time there.”

But on Lap 62, a competitor made contact with the rear quarter panel of Earnhardt’s No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS, forcing it toward the wall.

“He just lost the car and hit the quarter panel,” Earnhardt explained. “It happens, though. I’m angry, but I won’t be too upset about it later. It’s frustrating right now because we had a good car and I was happy with the way the car drove. We had good speed, we just needed to continue to work on getting our track position and we were doing that.”

Earnhardt took the car directly to the garage, where the No. 88 team began making repairs.

The damage, however, ultimately ended Earnhardt’s day.

“The car was great. It’s a shame,” he said. “We won’t get a chance to get the finish I think we could have got today.”