His last pole came almost five years ago on September 27th 2002 at Kansas Speedway, but today Dale Earnhardt Jr earned the pole for the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway.
Although he did earn the top spot for tomorrows race, it almost didn’t happen. During his turn to qualify it started to rain, but he managed to control the car and returned to the pits to wait out the shower. Fortunately with the high local temperatures and humidity the track dried quickly, and qualifying was able to continue, with Jr setting the fast time being the first runner after the shower.
“Well, the car handled perfect. We had a lot of help. First I want to credit Martin Truex, Jr. and Bono (Kevin Manion, crew chief on No. 1 Monte Carlo SS) and the Bass Pro guys. They’re car was really good here last time and we learned a lot from that and brought a lot of those things back, mechanically, on our car; and it’s been good all day long. So the car handled really, really good,” commented Earnhardt.
“The weather come and cooled the track down a little bit and obviously that’s going to help us quite a bit to be able to go even later in the day,” Earnhardt said. “It sped the track up for us to be able to take advantage of that and get the pole. So I was really happy about that.
“The lap was simple. The track dried fast so they didn’t have to use the jet blowers too much. Like any other car, the jet blowers burn oil and that oil comes out the exhaust and it films the track up a little bit for the next guy to go. The track dried so fast they didn’t have to blow the track for too long. I was really happy.”
Jr after his run and being reminded of how long it has been since he sat on pole said
“Wow, has it been that long? Didn’t realize that, I don’t put a lot of emphasis on poles. I try to get them, but they are hard to get. And it’s kind of cool. They’re giving these flags out now. So we’re going to hang that up somewhere.”
As in most cases it seems after a driver announces they are leaving a team, performances improve, and in Juniors case this could be due to his deals for next year being in place. Without any uncertainty he and the team can focus clearly. Whatever the case, it’s working and hopefully we will see Junior in the chase in a DEI Bud sponsored Chevy this year.