NASCAR: Dale Earnhardt Jr. on pole for Dover

Dale Earnhardt Jr. showed that his Chase hopes aren’t going down without a fight as he put his Chevrolet on the pole at the Dover International Raceway.

It was his first pole at the one-mile oval, second this year, moreover he set a new record at the track known as the Monster Mile at 161.849mph (or 22.243) eclipsing the nine-year old record set by Jeremy Mayfield at 161.522mph. It was the 17th time this season that a qualifying record was beaten.

Even though NASCAR’s most popular driver had a good day; Matt Kenseth the series points leader, and winner of the previous two Chase races, put his Toyota alongside Earnhardt’s Chevy SS a mere .006 seconds slower at 161.805mph.

Rival Chase drivers Ryan Newman (161.740 mph) and Carl Edwards (161.609 mph) qualified third and fourth, respectively, while Aric Almirola (who drives for Richard Petty Motorsports) equaled Edwards at 161.609 mph, to earn the fifth starting spot.

With NASCAR single car qualifying, Earnhardt nervously awaited the remaining 17 drivers to take his provisional pole, but, that didn’t happen.

“I was expecting to put a good lap down,” Earnhardt said.


“I thought we’d be competitive enough to get inside the top 10 pretty easily… I made a couple of small errors out in the car, but you never drive every lap perfectly. You always kind of wish you could have done things a little differently. I think the car had maybe another half a tenth (of a second) or a tenth in it.

“I watched the lap tracker on a couple of guys. The 99 (Edwards), they were a tenth-and-a-half better than us by the time they got into Turn 3 or the middle of 3 and 4. So, yeah, I thought there was a good amount of time left out there for a lot of guys, myself included.”

When Kenseth heard he had fallen .006 off the pole-winning lap, he radioed, “My bad,” to his team, but changing conditions had more to do with Kenseth’s second-place effort.

“I feel bad we missed the pole by just that little bit,” Kenseth said. “(Crew chief) Jason (Ratcliff) and I both had a feeling it was going to go like that when we saw the sun pop out before we left (on the qualifying run). It just got too free and lost too much time…

“I felt like from the seat I got everything it had in it… Gosh, we just missed it by a little bit — just too loose, just couldn’t stay in the gas.”

Earnhardt who is 11th in the standings 62 points behind Kenseth added “he’s having a great year, but hopefully we can beat him. We want to get up there and regain our ground and get back into this thing if we can.”

Kyle Busch, second in the standings to his teammate, Kenseth will start 14th while five-time champ, Jimmie Johnson, who is third in the standings qualified 8th.

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