Earnhardt on pole in Richmond

It's a Hendrick Motorsports front row at Richmond International Raceway. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 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 feels good. I've not really been the best of qualifiers the last couple of years. We have a lot of improvements we've made this year. It feels good to get a pole."

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, and was pleased with the effort.

Gordon needs a strong race Saturday night 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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