A correct forecast places Earnhardt in pole position
daytona beach, fla. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned the pole for Sunday’s race at Daytona International Speedway because his crew chief correctly predicted the weather.
Greg Ives instructed Earnhardt to go flat-out at the start of Friday’s first practice session because the rules state the field will be set by practice times if a qualifying session is canceled. When rain washed out the Saturday session, Ives proved to be a skilled weatherman.
NASCAR’s most popular driver is a two-time Daytona 500 winner and won this race in 2001.
Austin Dillon will start second and will be followed by Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard and Trevor Bayne.
Jeff Gordon will start 24th in his final race at Daytona. The fourtime NASCAR champion is retiring at the end of the year and said he was disappointed he didn’t get a chance to qualify Saturday.
Gordon won the pole for the season-opening Daytona 500 and the May race at Talladega.
The qualifying washout meant Michael McDowell and Ryan Blaney failed to make the 43-car field.
It was a big blow for Blaney, who had an engine failure in his Daytona 500 debut but was the lone Ford capable of competing for the win at Talladega in May. He finished fourth and might have had a shot at the victory, but few drivers were confident enough in the rookie to work with him in the closing laps.