Earnhardt Jr scores pole as battle for Chase spot heats up

Dale Earnhardt Jr

Dale Earnhardt Jr

Dale Earnhardt Jr will start from pole for tomorrow’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

Earnhardt Jr will head the field in the final race of the regular season, with NASCAR’s ‘Chase’ to commence at the next event.

Earnhardt’s Henricks Motorsport team-mate Jeff Gordon – one of the drivers who needs to win to make the Chase – will start in second place.

Gordon’s starting position has put him in position for a last-ditch attempt to qualify for the Chase. Gordon can dislodge Kurt Busch from the second provisional wildcard position by winning the race (if Tony Stewart remains in the top 10 in the standings) or by beating Busch by more than 12 points, if no wildcard contender with one victory wins on Saturday night.

Busch posted the 15th fastest time and will start the race 13 positions – the equivalent of 13 points – behind Gordon, setting up a dramatic shootout for the final wild-card spot.

Australian Marcos Ambrose is also in contention for a spot in the Chase, thanks to his Watkins Glen win. He will have to start the 400 mile event from 22nd.

Joey Logano and Ryan Newman also have one win a piece this year and will start eighth and 14th respectively.

Two other drivers who are winless this season but still have a remote chance to make the Chase are Carl Edwards (16th) and Paul Menard (27th).

Pole-sitter Earnhardt has already has qualified for the Chase, but this was his first pole position for 2012.

“We’ve been working the last two years to improve … and this year we made some gains,” Earnhardt said.

“It feels good to get a pole position and know that we’re doing something right there.

“It gives us a good starting spot for [Saturday]. We feel pretty confident about the car after practice [Friday], and starting up front is an advantage. I’m happy that we’re performing well and look forward to the race.”

Regan Smith will start third from Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Denny Hamlin, Logano, Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski.

Starting line-up, Richmond

POS CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR SPEED TIME BEHIND
1 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Diet Mountain Dew / National Guard 127.023 21.256 Leader
2 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger 126.981 21.263 -0.007
3 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row / Farm American 126.910 21.275 -0.019
4 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-hour Energy 126.808 21.292 -0.036
5 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe’s 126.790 21.295 -0.039
6 55 Mark Martin Toyota Aaron’s Dream Machine 126.784 21.296 -0.040
7 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 126.671 21.315 -0.059
8 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 126.600 21.327 -0.071
9 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 126.553 21.335 -0.079
10 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 126.547 21.336 -0.080
11 22 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 126.410 21.359 -0.103
12 83 Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King 126.139 21.405 -0.149
13 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser 126.080 21.415 -0.159
14 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Quicken Loans 126.074 21.416 -0.160
15 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M’s 126.033 21.423 -0.167
16 99 Carl Edwards Ford Kellogg’s 126.033 21.423 -0.167
17 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Best Buy 125.974 21.433 -0.177
18 43 Aric Almirola Ford Smithfield 125.939 21.439 -0.183
19 98 Michael McDowell Ford Phil Parsons Racing 125.880 21.449 -0.193
20 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 125.845 21.455 -0.199
21 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet Quaker State 125.722 21.476 -0.220
22 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Mac Tools 125.692 21.481 -0.225
23 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M / Owens & Minor 125.599 21.497 -0.241
24 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 125.546 21.506 -0.250
25 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Menards / Moen 125.511 21.512 -0.256
26 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Allstate 125.389 21.533 -0.277
27 34 David Ragan Ford Taco Bell 125.389 21.533 -0.277
28 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1 125.371 21.536 -0.280
29 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Bush’s Baked Beans 125.342 21.541 -0.285
30 51 Kurt Busch Chevrolet Phoenix Construction 125.226 21.561 -0.305
31 30 David Stremme Toyota Inception Motorsports 125.052 21.591 -0.335
32 93 Travis Kvapil Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 124.988 21.602 -0.346
33 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing 124.890 21.619 -0.363
34 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AM / FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves 124.879 21.621 -0.365
35 38 David Gilliland Ford Mossy Oak / Pursuit Channel 124.746 21.644 -0.388
36 33 Stephen Leicht* Chevrolet Special Ops OPSEC 124.723 21.648 -0.392
37 10 David Reutimann Chevrolet Inc. 5000 / @TMone 6-peat 124.706 21.651 -0.395
38 23 Scott Riggs Chevrolet North Texas Pipe 124.539 21.680 -0.424
39 32 Ken Schrader Ford Federated Auto Parts 124.407 21.703 -0.447
40 119 Mike Bliss Toyota Plinker Tactical 124.315 21.719 -0.463
41 26 Josh Wise* Ford MDS Transport 124.161 21.746 -0.490
42 13 Casey Mears Ford GEICO 124.087 21.759 -0.503
43 191 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet Plinker Tactical 123.779 21.813 -0.557
 
Did Not Qualify
44 37 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Max Q Workforce 123.468 21.868 -0.612
45 0 Mark Green Toyota Blue Ox 120.962 22.321 -1.065

 

 

 

Comments are closed.