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Dale Earnhardt Jr. hit rock bottom during his last trip to Lowe's Motor Speedway. He struggled with his car, feuded with his crew chief and finished a season-low 40th at Concord, N.C., in one of his most embarrassing weekends.

Team owner Rick Hendrick fired crew chief Tony Eury Jr., Earnhardt's cousin, three days after that May debacle, but little has changed.

Earnhardt is slogging through a 51-race winless streak in Sprint Cup dating to 2008, his first season with Hendrick Motorsports. He's 22nd in points and hasn't finished higher than 17th in the past six races, while teammates Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon contend for the title.

Take Thursday's qualifying at Lowe's. Johnson and Martin swept the front row for tonight's race and Gordon qualified ninth. Earnhardt was 39th and said his team looked "ridiculous."

Even worse, he doesn't have any solutions.

"I've been riding it out, but there comes a point where you don't want to ride it out no more. You've just had enough," Earnhardt, who turned 35 last week, said Friday. "It's been so low. ... That's hard to want to get back up and try again the next week when you take such a beating. I don't know what else to do."

Kyle Busch risesto Nationwide win

Kyle Busch is feeling better, thanks.

The NASCAR star shrugged off walking pneumonia to dominate Friday night's Nationwide series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway, picking up his seventh victory of the year to extend his points lead over Carl Edwards with four races remaining.

Mike Bliss was second in the Dollar General 300. Edwards finished fifth to drop 195 points behind Busch, who led 137 of 200 laps at the 1.5-mile oval for his first series win in nearly three months.

"This is my house, at least on the Nationwide side," Busch said.

The workaholic Busch felt so poorly last weekend, he hopped out of his No.18 Toyota early in both the Nationwide and Cup races in Fontana, Calif. Teammate Denny Hamlin filled in during the Nationwide race and crashed, finishing 31st and allowing Edwards to gain in the standings.


A judge in Tennessee ruled Bristol Motor Speedway does not have to pay $397,000 in taxes for broadcast revenue on NASCAR races. The speedway challenged the assessment, claiming the state was illegally taxing the track by claiming NASCAR was paying the track for a service. ... The family of late NASCAR champion Alan Kulwicki is donating $1.9 million to the motorsports engineering program at UNC Charlotte. The trust fund, established by Kulwicki's stepmother, Thelma, is the largest gift ever made to the engineering school. It will be used for annual scholarships and the construction of a new building.

Johnson to live it up on '24/7'

Jimmie Johnson, who is trying for a record-breaking fourth consecutive Sprint Cup title, will open his life for the series 24/7 on HBO. Four episodes will air beginning in January and focus on Johnson's preparation for the 2010 Daytona 500. "I'm confident that my personality will come out, and for those who may think I'm boring, they'll see a different side of me," he said this week.

Pastrana making new year a leap year

On New Year's Eve, with the Queen Mary in the background, freestyle motocross star and rally car champTravis Pastrana will try to break the world record for longest jump in a rally car (171 feet). He'll jump from a pier ramp in Long Beach, Calif., onto a ramp on a barge anchored in the harbor. "I just hope they get me back to the party after I land on the barge," Pastrana said. "Even more, I hope I'm not swimming."

Times wires