Little E sets new pole record at Michigan

Dale Earnhardt Jr, who recently mentioned being in a slump, accelerated himself right out of it today with a record-shattering lap around the two-mile Michigan Speedway in 37.667s (191.149mph), the first driver to officially break the 190 mark.

Little E sets new pole record at Michigan

The previous record, set in June by Bobby Labonte, was 189.883 mph (37.918s). The Bud Pole Award is the second for the Rookie of the Year contender in his 27 series career starts. Junior's other polewinning effort came at Charlotte's Lowe's Motor Speedway in the Coca Cola 600.

The 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup Series champ Dale Jarrett will start alongside Junior on the front row. Jarrett's lap was completed in 37.903s at 189.959 mph.

"The track was 98 degrees in practice and about 113 or 118 when we went out to qualify," Junior said. "I thought that was going to hurt us a little bit, but we actually went quicker.

"The problem we had the last few months is we've been to a lot of flat tracks. We hadn't got a handle on flat tracks. We made some gains, saw returns on the gains at Indianapolis - it just took us that long.

"We couldn't get the car to turn, that was our problem. We're still nowhere near where we want to be."

On a three-Earnhardt weekend, Junior was the only family member to make the field in first round. Seven-time series champ Dale Earnhardt could only manage 187.329 mph, which puts him in 33rd position. Older brother Kerry was 40th fastest with 186.950 mph his top speed.

"A word about my Dad: when he does poorly, it's best not to get anywhere near him," Junior stated, somewhat ruefully...

"We couldn't get a handle on it in practice," Big E said. "We tried a higher gear and we tried some different springs, we just didn't pick up."

As for older brother Kerry, he said his car "wouldn't turn in the corners. I had to drift up to the walls and just ride it out. ...The sun's out and the track is a little hotter. ...That brings you down so much. We didn't get close."

Rick Mast , Ricky Rudd and Bobby Labonte round out the top five. Jeremy Mayfield, in his first-time back in the car since he crashed during practice for the Brickyard 400, qualified sixth. Mark Martin, Jerry Nadeau, Ward Burton and Rusty Wallace make up the remainder of the top 10.

Joe Nemecheck managed to hold onto the 25th and final spot during first round. Some who didn't make the field were Matt Kenseth, Darrell Waltrip, Kyle Petty, Jimmy Spencer, Todd Bodine in the Kellogg's Chevrolet, subbing for Terry Labonte, and John Andretti. DW and Petty are out of provisionals until Darlington - two weeks from now.

Pos No. Name Make Time Speed

1 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr* Chv 00:37.667 191.149
2 88 Dale Jarrett Frd 00:37.903 189.959
3 14 Rick Mast Pon 00:37.915 189.898
4 28 Ricky Rudd Frd 00:37.941 189.768
5 18 Bobby Labonte Pon 00:37.965 189.648
6 12 Jeremy Mayfield Frd 00:37.970 189.623
7 6 Mark Martin Frd 00:37.971 189.618
8 25 Jerry Nadeau Chv 00:37.991 189.519
9 22 Ward Burton Pon 00:37.998 189.484
10 2 Rusty Wallace Frd 00:37.999 189.479
11 32 Scott Pruett* Frd 00:38.020 189.374
12 36 Ken Schrader Pon 00:38.033 189.309
13 50 Ricky Craven Chv 00:38.048 189.235
14 31 Mike Skinner Chv 00:38.084 189.056
15 1 Steve Park Chv 00:38.084 189.056
16 24 Jeff Gordon Chv 00:38.093 189.011
17 94 Bill Elliott Frd 00:38.119 188.882
18 7 Michael Waltrip Chv 00:38.231 188.329
19 20 Tony Stewart Pon 00:38.246 188.255
20 75 Wally Dallenbach Frd 00:38.249 188.240
21 40 Sterling Marlin Chv 00:38.263 188.171
22 93 Dave Blaney* Pon 00:38.280 188.088
23 10 Johnny Benson Pon 00:38.282 188.078
24 99 Jeff Burton Frd 00:38.290 188.039
25 33 Joe Nemechek Chv 00:38.309 187.945

26 16 Kevin Lepage Frd 00:38.330 187.842
27 21 Elliott Sadler Frd 00:38.348 187.754
28 5 Todd Bodine Chv 00:38.354 187.725
29 55 Kenny Wallace Chv 00:38.363 187.681
30 97 Chad Little Frd 00:38.401 187.495
31 60 Geoffrey Bodine Chv 00:38.409 187.456
32 17 Matt Kenseth* Frd 00:38.415 187.427
33 3 Dale Earnhardt Chv 00:38.435 187.329
34 26 Jimmy Spencer Frd 00:38.450 187.256
35 77 Robert Pressley Frd 00:38.452 187.246
36 27 Mike Bliss* Pon 00:38.467 187.173
37 43 John Andretti Pon 00:38.475 187.135
38 90 Hut Stricklin Frd 00:38.500 187.013
39 4 Bobby Hamilton Chv 00:38.506 186.984
40 71 Kerry Earnhardt Chv 00:38.513 186.950
41 11 Brett Bodine Frd 00:38.577 186.640
42 01 Ted Musgrave Chv 00:38.601 186.524
43 66 Darrell Waltrip Frd 00:38.623 186.417
44 9 Stacy Compton* Frd 00:38.632 186.374
45 95 David Keith Frd 00:38.699 186.051
46 13 Robby Gordon Frd 00:38.754 185.787
47 96 Andy Houston Frd 00:38.829 185.428
48 44 Kyle Petty Pon 00:39.163 183.847
49 85 Carl Long Frd 00:40.497 177.791

*Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender

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