DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - NASCAR is back - and so is Juniormania. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won pole position for the Daytona 500 with a speed of 186.089 mph in qualifying Sunday.
It's a boost for Earnhardt, who is coming off a disappointing 2010 season and has spent Daytona speedweeks facing questions about the 10-year anniversary of his father's death at the track.
Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jeff Gordon, qualified second. Having NASCAR's most popular driver lead the field to the green flag next Sunday could provide some traction for a sport looking to pick up sagging television ratings and attendance.