Earnhardt sets record to take Kentucky pole

SPARTA, Ky. (AP) -- The questions during NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying Friday were how many drivers would raise Kentucky Speedway's record and by how much.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. provided the answer of the eight that broke it, clocking 183.636 mph to wrest the mark from Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson and the pole for Saturday night's race.

Earnhardt's speed was nearly 2 mph faster than Johnson's 181.818 mph last June, which he needed to keep Johnson from keeping the record.

Minutes before, Johnson had a lap at 183.144 mph to hold off Ryan Newman (182.254). Earnhardt set the standard in the No. 88 Chevy soon after and survived several furious attempts to unseat him before coming away with his 12th career pole and first at Kentucky.

Carl Edwards (183.306 mph) eventually grabbed the outside front in the No. 99 Ford. Johnson settled for third with Kyle Busch (182.593) fourth in a Toyota.


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