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MENCS: Earnhardt wins pole in final Coke Zero 400

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won the pole for his potentially final race at Daytona International Speedway. At a speed of 190.973 mph Earnhardt bested teammate Chase Elliott, creating an all Hendrick Motor Sports front row.

His first pole of the year is his fourteenth in his 612 race career, and is his second at DIS. Keep in mind the last time he paced the field in qualifying he ended up winning the main event.

Brad Keselowski sandwiched himself in third, preventing HMS from starting 1-2-3 as Kasey Kahne qualified fourth. Kevin Harvick was fifth fastest. Rounding out the top-ten are Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Blaney, and Danica Patrick.

It was a Ford and Chevrolet sweep of the final round of qualifying as no Toyota qualified higher than 13.

Drivers (from left to right), Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, and Kevin Harvick speak before qualifying. Photo by Jonathan McCoy.

Earnhardt, who was also first in happy hour Thursday afternoon doesn’t think he’s in a different zone, or mindset this weekend. “I just know that um I need the car a certain way. I need the car to do certain things and um we’ve had one debrief and I did notice, I did notice in a couple of situations in practice, some things about the balance of my car I didn’t like so we addressed that and started working on that. I brought that up to my teammates that I don’t think a lot of guys got themselves into situations to really see what their car will do in traffic. … Handling might be a little bit more critical than we thought.”

“The car handling-wise needs to be perfect to win the race. If I get a really good handling car, that doesn’t give me any issues then I can just think solely about being on the offense and putting together moves or taking opportunities that I see in front of me.”

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