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Earnhardt Jr. earns Sprint Cup pole at Dover

Dale Earnhardt Jr. owns two Sprint Cup poles in a season for the first time since 2002.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. owns two Sprint Cup poles in a season for the first time since 2002.

DOVER, Del. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. can pick up his pursuit of Matt Kenseth from out front.

Earnhardt showed a rare burst of top qualifying speed Friday with a track-record lap of 161.849 mph to earn the pole at Dover International Speedway.

Earnhardt, with his second pole this year, hadn't had multiple poles in a season since 2002.

Chase for the Championship drivers filled the top four spots and eight of the top 12 for Sunday's Sprint Cup race. Kenseth, the points leader and winner of the first two Chase races, joins Earnhardt on the front row for the AAA 400 at the "Monster Mile". Ryan Newman is third and Carl Edwards fourth.

Earnhardt is 11th in the 13-driver Chase field with eight races to go. He's not out of it but certainly needs a hot streak in the No. 88 Chevrolet — and for Kenseth and the rest of field to cool considerably.

That's a long shot, so Earnhardt is just determined to win at least once this season.

"I'd be really disappointed if we don't win a race this season, because I think we're a better team than we were last year," he said. "We came close so many times. We'd just like to go out there and get some trophies."

Kenseth has a series-high seven wins, including at Chicagoland and New Hampshire to start the Chase. Even he can't explain his roll since he joined Joe Gibbs Racing.

"I don't think I've ever been on one quite like this," he said. "I've been enjoying it. You never know when it's going to end."

Meanwhile, Clint Bowyer's sponsor, 5-Hour Energy, stuck with embattled Michael Waltrip Racing through 2014. Teammate Martin Truex is still waiting to find out where he'll drive next season after NAPA yanked its sponsorship in the aftermath of MWR's decision to manipulate the outcome of the Sept. 9 race at Richmond.

Kanaan's new home: Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan will not return to KV Racing next season and is finalizing a deal to join Chip Ganassi Racing, the Associated Press reported. Ganassi has not announced the move. Kanaan, 38, will join a lineup that includes Indy 500 winners Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon, plus Charlie Kimball.

IndyCar sponsorship: Izod, title sponsor of the IndyCar series since 2008, will end its deal at the end of the season.

NHRA: Shawn Langdon led Top Fuel with a run of 3.761 seconds at 326.40 mph on the first day of qualifying at the Midwest Nationals in St. Louis. Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Michael Ray (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also led their classes.

Obituary: George Bignotti, the chief mechanic for a record seven Indianapolis 500 winners from the 1960s to the '80s, died Friday in Las Vegas. He was 97.

Earnhardt Jr. earns Sprint Cup pole at Dover 09/27/13 [Last modified: Friday, September 27, 2013 10:34pm]
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