Jr. on pole for final Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s retirement tour is making an emotional stop at NASCAR’s most famous track.
Earnhardt won his first pole Friday since Sept. 29, 2013, and will lead the field to the green flag in what could be his final Monster Energy Cup race at Daytona International Speedway.
Earnhardt reached 190.973 mph during his fast lap, putting his No. 88 Chevrolet in the top spot for tonight’s race. The pole also earned Earnhardt an automatic spot in the exhibition Clash at Daytona in 2018, giving him an opportunity to cut his impending retirement short and get back behind the wheel at the famed track for Speedweeks.
“I’ll talk to my boss and see what he has in the shed,” Earnhardt said.
Earnhardt was the final driver to qualify and bumped Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott to second. The front row is a reverse from the Daytona 500, when Elliott landed the pole and Earnhardt started on the outside of the front row. It was a strong day overall for Hendrick, with Kasey Kahne qualifying fourth. Wedged between the top Hendrick cars was Brad Keselowski, who qualified third for Team Penske.
Kevin Harvick was fifth, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Joey Logano.
All the attention, though, was on Earnhardt. No surprise for NASCAR’s favorite son, especially this weekend.