Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Start in Rear of Auto Club 400

Dale Earnhardt Jr. crosses the front straightaway during the opening practice session for the NASCAR auto race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana Calif. Friday

Dale Earnhardt Jr. crosses the front straightaway during the opening practice session for the NASCAR auto race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana Calif. Friday

Earnhardt will be forced to start from the back of the field in the Auto Club 400 due to a cut on his right-front tire that was discovered early Sunday.

Earnhardt has finished better than 12th in the last six Auto Club races with a best finish of second in 2013.

Earnhardt qualified 18th, but NASCAR requires all drivers to start on the same tires they used for qualifying.

Jimmie Johnson, Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, skipped qualifying Friday after being involved in an accident during practice earlier in the day that necessitated a switch to a backup vehicle. Also starting from the rear of the field for the Auto Club 400 are Paul Menard (unapproved tire change, was slated to start 23rd), Jeffrey Earnhardt (unapproved transmission change, was slated to start 32nd) and David Ragan (backup vehicle, was slated to start 27th).

Earnhardt also tweeted the team will only be allowed to replace the cut tire, leaving him with one sticker tire and three scuffed tires to start the race.

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