Six wins, 960 laps led, 17 years… somehow no pole position for Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Talladega Superspeedway.
That came to an end Saturday when the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet ended quickest in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at a lap time of 50.256 seconds (190.544 mph).
For Earnhardt, who runs his final Cup race at Talladega Sunday in the Alabama 500, it was his 15th career pole and second of the season, also extending a streak of four straight front-row starts on plate tracks.
“It’s hard to believe we’ve never had a pole here before,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “Hopefully, this one is just as good tomorrow. To run by yourself is one thing, completely different to compete against all the other cars out there. We got the pole at Daytona, front row on the other two, we continued that streak today.
“The concern goes right to tomorrow to see how we’ll handle in the pack. It’s nice to get a pole here and to hear the fan excitement for it.”
Daytona 500 pole-sitter Chase Elliott finished second, 0.035 of a second behind teammate Earnhardt. With HMS securing all four cars in the top 11 for Sunday, Elliott has learned not to put an emphasis on aiding teammates at the front of the field.
“It’s hard to help each other at these places,” Elliott said. “The big thing is we don’t want to hurt each other. You can’t put yourself in a bad spot to help someone else, teammate or not.”
Joey Logano was the highest Ford of the session, third, while Kurt Busch and defending Talladega winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. completed the top five.
Brad Keselowski was sixth followed by Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Blaney and Trevor Bayne the top 10.
Kevin Harvick was the lowest playoff driver, qualifying 22nd.
.@DaleJr got the pole, and if he gets the win, it'd be for his fans. #appreci88ion pic.twitter.com/EpVRgvWvjy
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 14, 2017
Starting Lineup for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Alabama 500
About the author
Growing up in Easton, Pa., Zach Catanzareti has grown his auto racing interest from fandom to professional. Joining Frontstretch in 2015, Zach enjoys nothing more than being at the track, having covered his first half-season of 18 races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2017. With experience behind the wheel, behind the camera and in the media center, he thrives on being an all-around reporter.
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Shocker, I tell you.. shocker. WWE!!!!!!!!! LOL.
Yawn, I said last week he’d end up with pole. Ray Charles could of seen this coming.
Brian has no shame!
Crasscar really needs to change it up, this stuff is just getting way old.
No one who doesn’t subsist on a steady diet of Flavor-Aid is surprised. I doubt he has the competitive fire to take advantage of this freebie, however.
LOL…. I knew that would be most fans’ reaction. It was mine as well. I really don’t think it’s that far of a stretch to think Dale (or an HMS car, look at the RP poll winners for the last 5 years) could legitimately win the pole at any RP track, but sometimes things just seem too perfect for “THE SHOW” to be true.
Just think. If Brian finds a sucker…er sponsor for Danica next year guess who gets the pole for the 500? Again!