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Earnhardt Jr. On Pole In Sparta

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Friday, June 28 2013

Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned his first pole of the season on Friday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Brian Cleary)

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Friday won the pole for Saturday’s Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway.

Earnhardt won the pole at the 1.5-mile oval with a track-record lap at 183.636 mph. He knocked Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson off the top spot before Carl Edwards knocked Johnson off the front row.

Johnson was followed by 2011 Kentucky winner Kyle Busch (182.593 mph) and Marcos Ambrose (182.587 mph).

The pole is the first of the season for Earnhardt, who is also looking for his first victory of the season.

It’s the fourth consecutive race that Edwards has started in the top three, and his third consecutive oval-track start on the front row.

Earnhardt hadn’t started better than sixth this season until now. Only twice had he started in the top 10 in the first 16 Cup races. Friday was the 12th pole of Earnhardt’s career.

“I felt we had good shot at putting a good lap down, but I didn’t know if we could get Jimmie,” Earnhardt said. “We got some good cloud cover to cool the track temp down. We got the point and now we need to go out and do it in the race.”

Nine drivers broke the previous track record at Kentucky, but this is the first time for the new Gen-6 cars on the 1.5-mile oval.

“I think we have a very fast UPS Ford and we had a good cloud,” Edwards said. “The cloud and the track temperature was a huge part of qualifying today. We were fortunate enough to have cloud cover over about 75-percent of the race track which was nice. I didn’t expect, after our mock qualifying runs, that people would be going that fast. I knew how fast we had to go to get the pole and just couldn’t quite go that fast. That was a good job by Dale Jr. and those guys, they did a great job. They did a good job with their qualifying effort and they did a good job with theirs and they just beat us. That was fun. I like this race track.”

Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, 2012 race winner Brad Keselowski, Brian Vickers and Juan Pablo Montoya will start from positions six through 10, respectively.

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Friday, June 28 2013
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