Monday, February 14, 2011

Dale Jr. Wins the Pole...Again

NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.
On Friday Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the pole for the Bud Shootout thanks to a lucky draw. Today he won the pole for the Daytona 500 the old fashioned way - by going faster than everyone else. He'll share the front row with his teammate Jeff Gordon. Interestingly, Earnhardt won the pole with Gordon's former crew chief, Steve Latarte. The crews were jumbled up in the offseason to try and improve both team's performance. It seems to be working.

The rest of the 43 car field will be determined by a formula that's almost as complicated as an Obamacare flowchart. Next Thursday there will be two 150 miles races that will determine the starting order, as well as who gets to go home without racing. Forty-eight cars have entered but only 43 will race on Sunday.

Earnhardt was the only car in qualifying to break 186 miles-per-hour average for the lap. During the Bud Shootout last night, with cars drafting two-by-two, Michael Waltrip ran a lap of 206 mph. NASCAR doesn't want them to go that fast because of the chance a car could get airborne, so there will be some tweaks to the rules package this week in hopes of getting the speeds back down around 195 in the draft.

The Twin 150's on Thursday will be exciting to watch. The drivers who are already guaranteed spots in the field will be going for the best starting position while the go-or-go-homers will be fighting to get in. Could get pretty wild toward the end of each race.

Dale's pole is a rather emotional moment on several levels.  First of all, he's a fan favorite.  Secondly, this year mark's the 10th anniversary of his father's death on the last lap of the 2001 race.  Much of the crowd will be pulling for him to win it all.

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