The curse of the National Guard?

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Both major Memorial Day weekend auto races — NASCAR’S Coca-Cola 600 and the Indianapolis 500 — featured dramatic collapses by the drivers who entered the final lap in the lead.

In NASCAR, Dale Earnhardt Jr. — who hasn’t won a Sprint Cup race since June 2008 — ran out of gas on the last lap of the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte. Kevin Harvick passed Earnhardt and won, while Junior ended up finishing 22nd.

Earlier in the day, in an even more heartbreaking finish, rookie driver JR Hildebrand inexplicably hit the wall in the final turn of the Indy 500. He managed to guide his car across the finish line, but not before Dan Wheldon drove by him and captured the checkered flag.

Two races on the same day, two excruciating collapses. The one thing both drivers had in common?

Both of their cars were sponsored by the National Guard.

Cue the Twilight Zone music.

Hildebrand hits the wall:

Dale Jr. gasses out:

 

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