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Earnhardt captures 11th pole of his career

It’s a Hendrick Motorsports front row at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (pictured right) won the pole for tonight’s “regular-season” finale, turning a lap of 127.023 mph in his Chevrolet to bump teammate Jeff Gordon from the top starting spot. “I was as surprised as anybody,” said Earnhardt, who won the 11th pole of his career. It’s the first pole for NASCAR’s most popular driver since the 2011 Daytona 500. It came at the expense of Gordon, who is trying to race his way into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Gordon wound up second. “Mission accomplished,” Gordon said. Gordon needs a strong race tonight and a little bit of help to earn one of the two wild-card berths in the 12-driver Chase field. – Associated Press

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