NASCAR Race Weekend Central
(Photo: Zach Catanzareti)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Captures Pole in Farewell Race at Daytona

During final practice on Thursday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. set the bar in regard to single car speeds. During Friday’s qualifying session the No. 88 Chevrolet backed it up by winning his third career pole at the famed track.

Earnhardt’s lap of  47.127 seconds (190.973 mph) was .044 seconds quicker than Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott (190.795 mph), who picked up his third front row start in four career starts at Daytona.

In a session that was dominated by Chevrolet and Ford, Earnhardt knew that Elliott was going to be the one to beat.

“I have to give HMS a lot of credit,” Earnhardt said following his qualifying session. “For me, personally, it’s been the [No.] 24 bunch. We’ve been pushing each other over the past couple of years at Daytona and Talladega, and it’s been a healthy competition. That’s why we win poles and qualify well at some of these race tracks, it’s a healthy competition within the company.”

The last time Earnhardt started from the pole at Daytona was in this event, two years ago. That night, he went on to lead a race-high 96 laps, picking up his fourth victory at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

Defending race winner, Brad Keselowski, turned the third quickest average speed at 190.287 mph, and was the fastest of the Blue Ovals. Kasey Kahne was the third driver from the Hendrick Motorsports team to qualify in the top five (190.050 mph), while Sonoma winner Kevin Harvick rounds out the top five (190.046 mph).

Talladega winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was sixth on the board, with Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Blaney and Danica Patrick filling the rest of the top 10.

For Patrick, it’s the first time since mid-2014 that the No. 10 car made it to the final round of qualifying in back-to-back weeks. In her career, she has an average starting position of 19.4 at Daytona.

“I think that once we get to this point of the season, after going to a couple of superspeedways, especially having the time time that we do in Daytona, everybody feels that we’ve got what we’ve got,” Patrick said after her qualifying run. “We didn’t make a mock run or anything. We did two single-car runs, and we didn’t get really get into traffic much. It’s a good car, and Stewart-Haas [Racing] always builds great cars, especially now that we have more in-house things.”

Past Daytona winner Matt Kenseth led the Toyota camp, qualifying 13th. Daytona 500 champion Kurt Busch turned the 15th fastest lap, while his younger brother, Kyle Busch, will start from 16th, after having the fastest time in opening practice on Thursday.

Both Kyle Larson (21st) and Martin Truex Jr. (25th), who are first and second in the championship standings, will have to come from mid-pack in order to record their first restrictor plate victory.

The green flag to the Coke Zero 400 is scheduled to wave at 7:50 p.m. ET Saturday evening. Keselowski led 115 out of 160 laps in last years event.

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About Dustin Albino

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Dustin joined the Frontstretch team at the beginning of the 2016 season. 2020 marks his sixth full-time season covering the sport that he grew up loving. His dream was to one day be a NASCAR journalist, thus why he attended Ithaca College (Class of 2018) to earn a journalism degree. Since the ripe age of four, he knew he wanted to be a storyteller.

10 comments

  1. Avatar
    Biff Baynehouse

    Farcically fixed! A buck-3-eighty says he doesn’t lead a lap all night, with Super Brad Keselowski on outside pole. What’s more? The Firecracker 400 race has officially transformed into a warm-up exhibition act for MMA? >:-(

    • Avatar
      Biff Baynehouse

      ***correction …BK starts P3 with Chase & KKK rounding out the top 4 qualifiers. Yeah huh? Nascar inspectors must have slipped & landed hard on their lasers when the HMS brigade rolled thru the conga-line!

  2. Avatar

    Brian is getting so predictable that he should be embarrASSed. And now even the Diva is getting into the act again.

    I wonder if Brian calls Vince Mr. M?

    I’m picking J-Jo to win in a GWC demo derby finish caused by a hot dog wrapper that only Brian sees. I can’t imagine why I would contemplate that!

  3. Avatar

    I predicted this days ago!!!!!!!!! As anybody with a brain did too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG!!!!!!! Too freaking funny, and that Booger flicker actually believes “he did it”.

    OMG……FIXED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Too freaking funny, pathetic and insulting!

  4. Avatar

    I tuned in to the Busch league event and it’s in a rain delay. Brian has really pissed off the Racing Gods and they’ve been talking to the Rain Gods. I hope tomorrow is the same.

  5. Avatar

    Congratulations. Nothing surprises me anymore. Thunk

  6. Avatar

    Busch race postponed to Saturday at noon on TSN5

  7. Avatar

    It’s no wonder why people feel NASCAR is rigged. How suspicious that Junior wins the pole in what might not be his final race at Daytona, as He’s dropping hints that he’ll run the 500 next February. I do disagree with Biff Baynehouse about Junior not leading a lap. He will lead some, maybe 10, at the start. Why do I say that? Remember 1992, and Richard Petty’s final race at Daytona. Petty had a front row starting position and lead the first 10 laps. It was almost hilarious, as everyone was almost piling into each other, trying not to pass Richard. Then, once they hit lap 11, Petty went back like a rock! I seem to recall, and don’t quote me on who said it, but I think it was Benny Parsons in the booth, but he said, “OK, now that the opening ceremony is over, we can get down to racing”, or something to that effect. I don’t even think Petty finished the race.

    I do know this, that if a Ford wins tonight (or tomorrow, if the weather gods decide to ruin Brian’s night again), there will be hell to pay! Fords have won the last five restrictor plate races, Keselowski twice, and Logano, Kurt Busch, and Stenhouse each once! In fact, I’m surprized there hasn’t been changes to NASCAR’s restrictor plate package already.