4-04-08 - After a long wait Friday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. captured the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Earnhardt lapped the 1.5-mile oval in 28.286 seconds in a Chevrolet, clocking 190.907 miles per hour for his first pole of the season and eighth career.
Qualifying was delayed 72 minutes after rookie Michael McDowell’s car was involved in a wicked fiery crash, which completed destroyed his Toyota.
After racing resumed, Earnhardt earned his first pole since collected one on August 5 at the Pennsylvania 500. The 33-year-old finished second in that race.
Joining Earnhardt on the front row is the Ford of Denny Hamlin, who posted a lap of 28.498 seconds at 189.487 mph.
The Toyota of Kyle Busch and the Dodge of Ryan Newman comprise the second row.
Earnhardt’s teammate Jimmie Johnson qualified fifth in a Chevy while David Reutimann’s Toyota joins Johnson in the third row.
Dave Ragan and Matt Kenseth made it a pair of Fords in the fourth row.
Mike Skinner was ninth in a Toyota while 2006 race winner Kasey Kahne joins him in row five with his Dodge.
Defending champion Jeff Burton qualified in 35th position in a Chevy.
Despite Earnhardt’s impressive run, McDowell’s gruesome crash was the most notable moment of qualifying.
The 23-year-old Phoenix native, who finished 26th in his first-ever Sprint Cup Series race at the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 on March 30, lost control of his race car entering Turn 1 before slamming head-on into the safety wall.
The Toyota then spun upside down for several hundred yards before beginning a series of at least eight barrel rolls, coming to rest right-side up on the backstretch.
McDowell was able to exit the car and walk away under his own power.