Jeffrey Earnhardt made the most of his opportunity at Talladega Superspeedway Friday evening as he outpaced the field with a 182.50 mph lap to win the pole for the upcoming NASCAR Xfinity Series race.
It was his first Xfinity Series pole in 136 starts. What made it even more special was doing so while driving the black No. 3 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing which was made famous by his grandfather, Dale Earnhardt.
The Earnhardt name has long been synonymous with Talladega Superspeedway. Dale Earnhardt, a seven-time Cup Series champion, holds the title for the most wins (10) at the 2.66-mile track in what has become known as “Earnhardt Country.
“This is unbelievable, man,” Jeffrey said after qualifying. “It’s been a dream of mine for years to get an opportunity.
“All the guys at RCR, man, this is more them than it is me. All I gotta do is hold a pretty wheel. They’ve proved time and time again that they bring fast cars here to superspeedways.”
A familiar face will be calling the shots during the race as Larry McReynolds, currently a broadcaster for FOX Sports, will be his crew chief. McReynolds has 23 Cup Series wins to his credit, most memorably, the 1998 Daytona 500 victory with Dale Earnhardt.
Earnhardt has 135 Xfinity Series starts with his best finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2019 where he finished third driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.
When announcing the news that Earnhardt would be in the No. 3 at Talladega, Richard Childress said, “It’s great to have an Earnhardt back in one of our cars. We think Jeffrey is a talented young driver and I’m confident he will run well at Talladega.”
If Friday’s qualifying session was any indication, Earnhardt fans may be in for a treat Saturday when the Xfinity Series takes to the track for the Ag-Pro 300.
“Someone pinch me because I’m ready to wake up,” Jeffrey said, “but I guess I’ll wait ’til after we’re parked in Victory Lane before I decide to wake up.”