Jr. on pole for fi­nal Day­tona

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SCOREBOARD -

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.

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