Daytona II: Dale Earnhardt Inc qualifying report

Menard Captures First Career Pole, Leads an All Dale Earnhardt Inc. Front Row at Daytona DEI places three cars inside top eight for starting grid of Coke Zero 400 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 4, 2008) -- Dale Earnhardt Inc. driver Paul Menard ...

Menard Captures First Career Pole, Leads an All Dale Earnhardt Inc. Front Row at Daytona
DEI places three cars inside top eight for starting grid of Coke Zero 400

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 4, 2008) -- Dale Earnhardt Inc. driver Paul Menard captured his first career Sprint Cup pole Friday to lead an all DEI front row in qualifying for Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

Menard is joined on the front row by veteran Dale Earnhardt Inc. driver Mark Martin, who will start on the outside of Menard in the second position. In addition, DEI rookie Regan Smith will start eighth in the race.

Menard recorded a time and speed at the 2.5-mile oval of 48.409 seconds at 185.916 miles per hour. Martin's numbers were 48.421 and 185.870

"It's obviously a good position to be in," said Menard. "We didn't focus on qualifying at all during practice, so I didn't know what we would have. I was really happy with how the car drove in the draft and just how fast it was. It had good speed, so I thought we would qualify really well.

"Hats off to everyone at DEI and Earnhardt Childress Engines," added Menard. "We had great power. The car was fast at Talladega, but we had a little more power in the engine today and that's what did it for us."

Martin's qualifying result was his fifth top-four and second outside pole in 13 Cup races this season.

"We have a really good car here this weekend," said Martin. "I'm having a blast driving these cars and (crew chief) Tony Gibson and everyone at DEI continues to give me great cars to drive each week. This really says a lot about our engine program and kudos to the Earnhardt-Childress program for the gains they have made since February.

"Speed here is mostly done in the engine shop, so I just want to give those guys credit," added Martin. "We have a really good car here. I was able to pass cars on the outside in practice -- without help. If the car races anything like it practiced on the last run, we are going to have some big fun tomorrow night."

Smith, who posted his second top-eight qualifying result in the last four races, is also optimistic heading into tomorrow night's event.

"It was a great lap," said Smith. "You would like to say that it's all driver, but it's really about the team and the engine here at Daytona. All of the guys on my team and (crew chief) Dan Stillman did an awesome job, and all the guys at ECR (engines) did a great job. Having three cars in the top 10 from DEI shows just how strong our engines are.

"It definitely gets you all pumped up for tomorrow night's race to know that you have a fast race car. If we do the right things with it, and I put it in the right position on the race track, then we should have a good run tomorrow."

Notes:

Paul Menard's Pole in today's qualifying session for the Coke Zero 400 is the first by any Dale Earnhardt Inc. driver at Daytona International Speedway.

In addition, the pole is the first by a DEI driver in the Sprint Cup Series at either of the two NASCAR restrictor plate tracks (Daytona or Talladega Superspeedway).

Menard will start alongside Dale Earnhardt Inc. teammate Mark Martin in tomorrow night's race. The second-place qualifying effort is Martin's best at Daytona since 1990 and his best at a restrictor plate track since qualifying second at Talladega in 1991.

-credit: dei

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Paul Menard , Regan Smith , Mark Martin