NASCAR at Daytona 2017 Qualifying Results: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Takes Pole – Bleacher Report

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - JUNE 30:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 59th Annual Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on June 30, 2017 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

In a fitting turn of events, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start from the pole position at the 2017 Coke Zero 400 on Saturday after capturing the top spot during qualifying with a speed of 190.973 mph. 

Daytona has been one of Earnhardt’s best tracks over the course of his career. The No. 88 driver has four career wins at this track, most recently at this event in 2015. His retirement is rapidly approaching, so one more victory here would be an appropriate way to go out. 

Starting right behind Earnhardt in the first row will be Chase Elliott. Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne and Kevin Harvick round out the top five for Saturday’s race.

      

Coke Zero 400 Qualifying Results

Row 1: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Pole winner), Chase Elliott

Row 2: Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne

Row 3: Kevin Harvick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Row 4: Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray

Row 5: Ryan Blaney, Danica Patrick

Row 6: Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson

Row 7: Matt Kenseth, Trevor Bayne

Row 8: Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch

Row 9: Erik Jones, Denny Hamlin

Row 10: Austin Dillon, Daniel Suarez

Row 11: Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman

Row 12: Michael McDowell, Paul Menard

Row 13: Martin Truex Jr., Landon Cassill

Row 14: A.J. Allmendinger, Matt DiBenedetto

Row 15: Chris Buescher, David Ragan

Row 16: Darrell Wallace Jr., Brendan Gaughan

Row 17: Elliott Sadler, Ty Dillon

Row 18: Cole Whitt, Corey LaJoie

Row 19: Reed Sorensen, D.J. Kennington

Row 20: Ryan Sieg, Jeffrey Earnhardt

NASCAR on Fox tweeted out the video of Earnhardt capturing the pole in his final event at Daytona as a full-time driver:


Earnhardt missed the final 18 races in 2016 after suffering a concussion in a crash at Michigan last June. 

In April, Earnhardt announced he would be retiring from NASCAR after 17 years as a full-time driver. 

“I accomplished way more than I ever dreamed, way more than I ever thought I’d accomplish,” Earnhardt said, via NASCAR.com’s Zack Albert. “So I’m good, you know. I’m good on that front. I’m so blessed and fortunate on what I was able to achieve but I’m very sad because it’s definitely disappointing for a lot of people to wake up to that news this morning.”

It’s been a trying final season for Earnhardt to this point, though there have been signs of improvement lately. He’s finished in the top 10 in each of the past two races after having two top-10 finishes in each of the season’s first 14 races. 

Earnhardt was complimentary of his team, as well as being pushed by Elliott, and the work they put in after capturing the pole, via NASCAR:


Albert noted on Twitter the symmetry that has taken place this year at Daytona between Earnhardt and Elliott:


Earnhardt finished in 37th place at the Daytona 500 and was knocked off the track with 92 laps remaining due to car damage. 

Earnhardt and Elliott will have to fend off stiff competition, notably from Keselowski, who won this event last year. 

Keselowski is tied with Martin Truex Jr. for most top-10 finishes on the Monster Energy circuit this year with 11. He’s coming off a career-best third-place finish at Sonoma last week, so another high finish tomorrow wouldn’t be a surprise. 

Danica Patrick has found a good groove over the last two weeks. She qualified sixth at Sonoma last week before ending up 17th during the race, and her success at Daytona carried her to another top-10 spot in qualifying Friday. 

If there’s one track where Patrick could earn her first NASCAR Monster Energy Series victory, it would be Dayona International Speedway. She has two career top-10 finishes on the track and won the pole for the Daytona 500 in 2013. 

All eyes will be focused on Earnhardt, though. He is always the sentimental favorite at Daytona but will be even more so under the lights Saturday. 

History suggests this will be another memorable night for Earnhardt. He’s taken care of the first order of business in qualifying. 

With 400 miles between Earnhardt and a checkered flag, he can start the holiday weekend in grand fashion with a victory. 

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