News Earnhardt lands pole for what could be Cup finale at Daytona

03:41  01 july  2017
03:41  01 july  2017 Source:   Associated Press

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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 Cup Series race at Daytona International 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.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won his first pole in nearly four years and will lead the field to the green flag in what could be his Cup finale at Daytona International Speedway. Earnhardt turned a lap at 190.973 mph to put his No. 88 Chevrolet in the top spot for the Saturday

Dale Earnhardt Jr.© (Getty Images) Dale Earnhardt Jr.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- The chances are dwindling for Dale Earnhardt Jr. this season, the final shot for NASCAR's most popular driver to win a coveted Cup title.

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First he has to make the playoffs, and his best opportunity at one of those 16 slots is a win Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.

Earnhardt will start from the pole, the first time in nearly four years that his No. 88 Chevrolet will lead the field to the green flag. Next to him will be Chase Elliott, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate who has made clear that he'll pass Earnhardt to win at Daytona even though Earnhardt is scheduled to retire at the end of the year.

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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 Cup Series race at Daytona International 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.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won his first pole in nearly four years and will lead the field to the green flag in what could be his Cup finale at 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.

"We are running out of time, and I am aware of that," said Earnhardt, who is winless this season and ranks 22nd in points, well out of the playoff picture. "Yeah, this is probably our best shot to win, but we can win at other race tracks. We've got that ability to do that. It's been a very frustrating, tough year statistically."

In winning his first pole since September 2013, Earnhardt is now eligible to run a preseason race next February at Daytona.

"I'll talk to my boss and see what he has in the shed," Earnhardt quipped.

Earnhardt is on a farewell tour and admittedly afraid to miss a moment in his final, full-time season. He's feeling nostalgic -- even though he's made clear he'll race a handful of Xfinity Series events in 2018 -- and in two insightful visits to the media center Friday, he touched on his favorite Daytona memories. He recalled eating fried chicken at a post-race picnic to celebrate Richard Petty's 200th victory, which came with President Ronald Reagan on hand. There was the 1999 IROC race at Michigan in which Rusty Wallace inexplicably helped rival Dale Earnhardt Sr. instead of pushing Junior to the win.

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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 Cup Series race at Daytona International 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.

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 Cup Series race at Daytona International 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.

He recalled spending Speedweeks as a kid in beachside hotels. "You'd have drivers in the pool after practice," he said. "That was cool for those guys to be able to do that."

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He also weighed in on "Days of Thunder," the NASCAR-centered movie released in 1990 that surely helped popularize the racing circuit, and stoked a decades-old rumor that his famous father was offered the role of Rowdy Burns.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won his first pole in nearly four years and will lead the field to the green flag in what could be his Cup finale at Daytona International Speedway. June 30, 2017, at 5:53 p.m.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won his first pole in nearly four years and will lead the field to the green flag in what could be his Cup finale at Daytona International Speedway. Earnhardt turned a lap at 190.973 mph to put his No

"This is all hearsay because nobody was in the room but dad, the producer and director and (Tom) Cruise," Junior said, recalling Cruise having pimples and being a foot shorter than he expected. "They go into dad's office and they come out 30 minutes later, and I guess they were picking dad's brain. But the rumor was they offered dad the role of Rowdy Burns. I don't know if that is really true or not, but that was the rumor. But dad turned it down because he didn't want to play the bad guy."

Elliott welcomed being the bad guy Saturday night, if he can. But he also said Earnhardt has a different edge this week.

"I won't say he has a chip on his shoulder, but I do think he has been very, very determined this weekend on making sure his car is driving exactly like he wants it," Elliott said. "He doesn't want it good. He doesn't want it great. He wants it perfect, and I think he has made that very apparent in our post-practice meetings.

"Yes, I think he is very determined to run well here."

Earnhardt was the final driver to qualify and bumped Elliott to second. It was a strong day overall for Hendrick, with Kasey Kahne qualifying fourth. Wedged between the top Hendrick cars was Brad Keselowski, who qualified his Ford third for Team Penske.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s farewell tour: These tracks are No. 88's best chances to win before retirement

  Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s farewell tour: These tracks are No. 88's best chances to win before retirement Dale Earnhardt Jr. is retiring after 18 seasons in NASCAR on his own terms, but he still has 28 races this season to attempt to end a winless drought which dates to 2015. Research Research New Used New & Used Make (e.g. Chevrolet) Model (e.g. Equinox) Like his father, Earnhardt is known for being a great restrictor-plate racer, as evidenced by 10 of his 26 career wins coming at such tracks. But he's also enjoyed success at smaller tracks like Richmond, where NASCAR heads this weekend as the sport comes to terms with the fact its most popular driver is becoming the third icon to retire in consecutive seasons.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won his first pole in nearly four years and will lead the field to the green flag in what could be his Cup finale at Daytona International Speedway. Earnhardt turned a lap at 190.973 mph to put his No

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 Cup Series race at Daytona International 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.

All the attention, though, was on Earnhardt. No surprise for NASCAR's favorite son, especially this weekend.

Although Earnhardt expects to race at Daytona in the future, his trip to NASCAR's birthplace is being treated like a career finale.

The track developed a "Daletona" mosaic in the stadium's Axalta Injector that allows fans to create a piece of artwork to commemorate what could be Earnhardt's final start at Daytona. Officials also presented Junior with a painting featuring three of his most memorable wins at the superspeedway: His July 2001 victory that came 4 1/2 months after his father's fatal crash in the Daytona 500; his July 2010 win in the second-tier series in which he drove a No. 3 Chevrolet with a throwback paint scheme; and his February 2014 win in "The Great American Race."

"A lot of great things have happened here," he said. "A lot of drivers have made their careers here. It is something to be proud of if you are in the industry. It is a pretty fun race track."

He hasn't gotten too emotional yet. But he expects the weight of walking away to hit him during the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.

"I'm not having any anxiety about the end coming," he said. "I feel pretty good about that. I feel pretty good about my decision. I haven't had any second guesses or regrets about that. So, I don't believe I will have any anxiety as it starts to get closer to Homestead. I just don't want to miss anything. I don't want to miss a moment that I should take in. I don't want to miss opportunity to let people know how much they mean to me, everybody in the industry means to me."

Byron wins at Daytona for second straight Xfinity victory .
William Byron got his second win of the season, and this time he got to do it in front of his bosses. Research Research New Used New & Used Make (e.g. Cadillac) Model (e.g. ATS Sedan) Byron won his second consecutive Xfinity Series race on Saturday by leading a 1-2 finish at Daytona International Speedway for JR Motorsports. Byron raced to his first career Xfinity victory last weekend at Iowa, but team owners Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Rick Hendrick weren't at the track to see him.This time, Hendrick was the first person to the window of his car in victory lane.

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