E.A. Sports Today

Stenhouse on pole

Stenhouse takes the pole for Sunday’s Geico 500 from Earnhardt on last run of qualifying

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was nosed out of his first Talladega pole by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (cover) on the last qualifying attempt of the day. (All photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

TALLADEGA — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. might be looking over his shoulder a lot at tonight’s Charlie Daniels concert in the Talladega infield.

He knocked the fans’ favorite off the pole when he was thisclose to the prize.

Stenhouse snatched the pole for Sunday’s Geico 500 from Dale Earnhardt Jr. with the last run of qualifying Saturday when he turned a sub-50 fast lap for his second career pole.

Stenhouse ran at 191.547 only moments after Earnhardt, running in his next to last race here before retiring, turned a 190.788. The second row is defending race champion Brad Keselowski (190.427) and Matt Kenneth (190.177).

“I heard them all cheering when he got the pole the first round, or when he was in first; hopefully, they’re not too mad,” Stenhouse said. “We’ve got another race here that maybe he can get the pole for.

“I’d really like if they would let me win on Sunday; that’d be nice.”

For all the winning Earnhardt has done at Talladega Superspeedway, he has never won a pole here. This will be his first front-row start here.

“It doesn’t mean anything,” Junior said of the front row start. “I want the pole. Didn’t get it.

“We come close. We seem to come close at Daytona and Talladega quite a bit. We’re either second or whatever, but can’t seem to get the pole. Hopefully we can get one before the season’s out. It’d be nice to get one in my last year knowing I don’t really qualify all that well.”

In the the meantime, Stenhouse knows he should tread lightly.

“Good thing I went to the Boulevard last night,” he said. “I might not go tonight.”

Here is the Stenhouse car that knocked Earnhardt off the pole.

Starting Grid

(Sunday, 1 p.m.)

Row 1
17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 191.547
88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 190.780

Row 2
2 Brad Keselowski 190.427
20 Matt Kenseth 190.177

Row 3
6 Trevor Bayne 190.155
4 Kevin Harvick 190.023

Row 4
19 Daniel Suarez 190.011
24 Chase Elliott 189.921

Row 5
27 Paul Menard 189.643
18 Kyle Busch 189.582

Row 6
11 Denny Hamlin 189.470
22 Joey Logano 189.077

Row 7
78 Martin Truex Jr. 189.350
77 Erik Jones 189.313

Row 8
41 Kurt Busch 189.286
21 Ryan Blaney 189.256

Row 9
14 Clint Bowyer 189.036
3 Austin Dillon 189.036

Row 10
5 Kasey Kahne 189.021
31 Ryan Newman 188.961

Row 11
42 Kyle Larson 188.448
43 Aric Almirola 188.345

Row 12
1 Jamie McMurray 188.219
99 Michael McDowell 187.901

Row 13
34 Landon Cassill 187.883
32 Matt DiBenedetto 187.794

Row 14
47 A.J. Allmendinger 187.776
13 Ty Dillon 187.416

Row 15
38 David Ragan 187.405
48 Jimmie Johnson 187.361

Row 16
10 Danica Patrick 186.995
75 Brendan Gaughan 186.155

Row 17
55 Reed Sorenson 186.119
37 Chris Buescher 186.047

Row 18
7 Elliott Sadler 185.895
83 Corey LaJoie 185.144

Row 19
23 Gray Gaulding 184.172
72 Cole Whitt 183.807

Row 20
15 Joey Gase 183.353
33 Jeffrey Earnhardt 182.699

Defending race champion Brad Keselowski will start on the inside of the second row.

To see a gallery of B.J. Franklin photos from qualifying, go to www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

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