Earnhardt Returns To Daytona To Defend 500 Title Favorite To Capture Pole For Great American Race DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 5, 1999) -- Who's a favorite to capture the Bud Pole Award for Sunday's Daytona 500? Don't bet against the ...
Earnhardt Returns To Daytona To Defend 500 Title Favorite To Capture Pole For Great American Race
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 5, 1999) -- Who's a favorite to capture the Bud Pole Award for Sunday's Daytona 500? Don't bet against the race's defending champion.
"We felt good all year long about winning it last year," said Earnhardt, who after 19 tries, finally triumphed in NASCAR Winston Cup's premier event. "It was an exciting memory all year long, but it doesn't help you win it again this year. You've just got to go out and work hard and get ready and do it again this year. It's as hard to work back to the top as it was to win it last year."
In the 1990s, no driver has been better than Earnhardt in the run against the clock at Daytona International Speedway in preperation for the Daytona 500. In addition to his one pole position in 1996, he's started on the outside front row on three other occasions. As a result of his dominance in the Gatorade 125-mile qualifying races (winning nine straight), Earnhardt has an average starting spot of 2.9 average in the 500 since 1990.
"To start the season off on a winning note and get this team back into the feel of racing in the top five and racing for the championship is what I want to do." Bud Pole Award qualifying to determine the front row for the 41st annual event is set for Saturday, beginning at 12:30 p.m. and will be shown live on CBS Sports. Bobby Labonte took the pole for last year's race and was joined on the front row by his older brother Terry. Sterling Marlin was quickest during practice sessions Friday. His speed of 193.995 mph bettered Jeremy Mayfield, who was at 193.632 mph. A total of 58 drivers will attempt to make the 43-car starting field.
"We figured we'd be somewhere up there today," said Marlin. "The trick is to get the car down on the ground for qualifying. I had my first career pole here in Daytona and my first career win. This track has always been good to me." While the front row will be locked in during Saturday's time trials, the remainder of the field will be determined Thursday during the Gatorade 125-mile qualifiers.
While Bud Pole Award qualifying will take center stage Saturday, the World Center of Racing will host the Bud Shootout, a 25-lap dash for last year's NASCAR Winston Cup pole winners, and the FirstPlus Financial 200 ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde race.