Dale Earnhardt Jr. claimed his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole of the season and the first of his career at Dover (Del.) International Speedway on Friday during qualifying for Sunday's AAA 400, the third race in the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup NASCAR post season. He claimed the pole with a lap time of 22.243 seconds from behind the wheel of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
"The car had really good speed and a really good balance right off the trailer, and it felt like we were really competitive, more so than we've been here in the past, especially in practice," Earnhardt said.
Earnhardt will be joined on the front row by series championship points leader Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota after Kenseth turned in a 22.249-second lap in qualifying.
"Man, this Home Depot 'Let's Do This' Camry has been really fast all day," Kenseth said. "Has a lot of speed, been a lot of fun to drive. You feel like, especially with me driving the car, we don't get that many chances sat the pole, so I hate that we missed it by a little bit."
Despite turning a lap that was fast enough for the pole, according to Earnhardt, he didn't give the car all it had.
"The car has been excellent all day, and I just overdrove (turn) one a little bit and didn't really trust the car as much as I should have off of (turn) four," Earnhardt said soon after making his qualifying run. "The car is a lot faster than that."
Chase for the Sprint Cup drivers dominated the top-five in qualifying, with four of the top-five spots on Sunday's starting grid being occupied by Chasers. Ryan Newman qualified third in the No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet and Carl Edwards was fourth in the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford. Aric Almirola was the lone non-Chase driver to qualify in the top-five, qualifying fifth in the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford.
Two other Chase drivers qualified in the top-10, with the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson taking eighth and the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet of Kurt Busch qualifying ninth.
Other top-10 qualifiers include the No. 2 Penske Racing Ford of Brad Keselowski in sixth, the No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet of Jamie McMurray in seventh and the No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Martin Truex Jr. rounding out the top-10.