“The unleaded fuel threw us a curveball,” said Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 8 Chevrolet for DEI. “We haven’t obviously got the situation where we need it, but the guys will learn something from the two motors we lost and we will go from there.” NASCAR is using an unleaded fuel for the first time and some drivers complained about how it affected the performance of their race cars. Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 9 Dodge for Evernham Motorsports, said the unleaded fuel may have led to his engine problems, too. “It’s definitely different the way it runs, the way it takes off on restarts and how it shifts,” said Kahne, who led for 20 laps early in the race. “We’ve got some things to work on and figure out, but I think the unleaded fuel is fine. We ‘ve just got to learn how to make it work.” Earnhardt Jr. wasn’t as kind. He said the use of the unleaded fuel presented some surprises and he was worried about the motor situation after winter tests at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. FONTANA – No one would have guessed Paul Menard would have the highest finishing car for Dale Earnhardt Inc. in Sunday’s Auto Club 500 at California Speedway. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. suffered blown engines in their DEI cars and had to exit early in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race. Menard finished a lap down, in 20th place, but at least his motor didn’t blow up before the end of the race. Earnhardt Jr. and Truex Jr. weren’t as fortunate. Earnhardt Jr. complained to his crew that his engine was losing power and his oil pressure was dropping when he pulled out of the race to make repairs. He returned, but blew his motor and crashed on lap 121. “We just have to figure out what we need to do to the motors,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I just have to leave it in the hands of the motor builders back at DEI. We have two weeks and I know they are going to be working long, long days. They wil l figure it out. I have every faith they will.” Truex Jr. bowed out early in the race when his engine started smoking. He blew an engine, took his car out of the race and into the garage area on lap 13. “We didn’t get any warning,” said Truex Jr., driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet for DEI. “These guys at DEI do an awesome job with these engines. We only lost one last year. It is just frustrating. We had a legitimate top-five car, maybe even a winning car. We will never know.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!