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NASCAR Cup: Dale Earnhardt Jr. on pole at Talladega

Dale Earnhardt Jr. celebrates winning the pole for the Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. w14, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Dale Earnhardt Jr. celebrates winning the pole for the Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. w14, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

By AMANDA VINCENT

Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran a 50.256-second/190.544 mph lap in the second of two rounds of qualifying at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on Saturday to claim the pole for Sunday’s Alabama 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. It is his first-career pole at Talladega, but it puts him on the front row for the fourth of four restrictor-place races in 2017.

“We got a pole earlier this year at Daytona,” Earnhardt said. “We’ve been fighting our teammate, Chase (Elliott), and his group for poles at these tracks for a long time, and it’s been a lot of fun, to be honest with you, how these two teams have pushed and elevated each other.  Really, all the credit for getting a pole at a place like this goes to the team and goes to the car and the guys that work on it, the engine, the body men; we’ve got an amazing staff back at Charlotte that builds some awesome stuff.  I just hold the wheel straight and try not to bounce into the apron, but get as close to it as you can and make sure you run a clean lap. But there ain’t much to it as a driver. This place has meant a lot to me. It’s awesome to hear those fans happy for us, and hopefully, we’re going to give them a lot more to cheer about before this weekend is over.”

Hendrick Motorsports swept the front row, with Earnhardt’s teammate, Chase Elliott, qualifying second.

Earnhardt also was the fastest in the first round of qualifying with a 50.299-second/190.382 mph lap. Joey Logano was second to Earnhardt in the opening round, while Elliott was third.

In the final round, the two fast Chevrolet’s were followed by five Fords, those of second-row qualifiers Joey Logano and Kurt Busch, third-row qualifiers Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Brad Keselowski, and Clint Bowyer. Bowyer shares row four with Earnhardt and Elliott’s teammate, Jimmie Johnson.

Ford and Chevrolet combined to shut Toyota out of the final round of qualifying. Cup Series rookie Daniel Suarez was the highest-qualifying Toyota driver in 14th. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch weren’t far behind in 14th and 16th.

“You know; it’s superspeedway qualifying. You know; we never seem to, like as an organization and manufacturer, just been a little bit off on superspeedway qualifying, but we, obviously, race pretty decent,” Hamlin said. “It looks like the Fords are pretty strong, so we’ll have to race those guys tomorrow, and we’ll just kind of see how we all stack up. But, overall, everything was smooth and pretty easy day.”

Among the remaining 12 playoff drivers, Kevin harvick was the worst qualifyer in 22nd. He was joined outside the top-20 by series points leader Martin Truex Jr., who qualified 21st.

Here’s a look at the complete starting grid for the Alabama 500:
Row 1 — Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet), Chase Elliott (No. 24 Chevrolet)
Row 2 — Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford), Kurt Busch (No. 41 Ford)
Row 3 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford), Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford)
Row 4 — Clint Bowyer (No. 14 Ford), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet)
Row 5 — Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Ford), Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford)
Row 6 — Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet), Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet)
Row 7 — Danica Patrick (No. 10 Ford), Daniel Suarez (No. 19 Toyota)
Row 8 — Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota), Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota)
Row 9 — Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet), Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet)
Row 10 — Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota), Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet)
Row 11 — Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Toyota), Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Ford)
Row 12 — Erik Jones (No. 77 Toyota), A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet)
Row 13 — Ty Dillon (No. 13 Chevrolet), Aric Almirola (No. 43 Ford)
Row 14 — Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet), Chris Buescher (No. 37 Chevrolet)
Row 15 — Michael McDowell (No. 95 Chevrolet), Landon Cassill (No. 34 Ford)
Row 16 — Justin Marks (No. 7 Chevrolet), Matt DiBenedetto (No. 32 Ford)
Row 17 — David Ragan (No. 38 Ford), Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 33 Chevrolet)
Row 18 — Brendan Gaughan (No. 75 Chevrolet), Mark Thompson (No. 15 Chevrolet)
Row 19 — Joey Gase (No. 23 Toyota), Cole Whitt (No 72 Ford)
Row 20 — Gray Gaulding (No. 83 Toyota), D.J. Kennington (No. 55 Chevrolet)

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARExaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (facebook.com/nascarexaminer).

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Posted by on October 14, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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