Earnhardt Takes Qualifier, Poised for Daytona

Can make history by adding 500 win to Shootout and qualifying wins
By Lev Weinstein,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2008 12:07 AM CST
NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., takes the checkered flag ahead of Reed Sorenson to win the first of two qualifying races for the Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Dale Earnhardt Jr. continued his newfound success with Hendrick Motorsports yesterday, winning the first qualifying race for Sunday's Daytona 500. Coupled with his win in last Saturday's Shootout, Earnhardt must now be considered the favorite at the 500, and is on the cusp of a sweep no driver has yet managed to complete, according to ESPN.

"Nobody is boastful enough...to come in here and claim that," Said Earnhardt, when asked if he believed he could run the table, adding "But I think we've got a great shot." Junior came extremely close to accomplishing a sweep of Speedweek in 2004, when he won the 500, but placed second in the Shootout. His reinvention with HMS may prove the difference this year.