Earnhardt Jr. flirts with pole before Stenhouse steals show
By JENNA FRYER
AP Auto Racing Writer
TALLADEGA, Ala. — Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s farewell tour has officially started.
All eyes are on NASCAR’s favorite son as he races Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, a place where he’s adored by the fans and expected to win every time he gets in his Chevrolet.
The crowd roared Saturday in qualifying when he shot to the top of the board, but it was short-lived. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the last driver to qualify, immediately bumped Earnhardt to second. Stenhouse turned a lap at 191.547 mph to put the Roush Fenway Ford on the pole.
Earnhardt leads all active drivers at Talladega with six wins, but has never started from the pole. His lap was 190.780 mph in a Chevrolet.
“I’m pretty happy,” Earnhardt said.
“Great lap by Stenhouse and the Roush crew. Would have liked that pole.”
Stenhouse didn’t mind spoiling the Talladega party with his first pole in four years.
“It will be nice to lead the field to the green here,” Stenhouse said. “It’s a cool way to start the weekend.”