A cor­rect forecast places Earn­hardt in pole po­si­tion

The Washington Post Sunday - - GAMBLING - BY JENNA FRYER

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.

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