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Dale Jr. wins Coors Light Pole at Daytona

July 04, 2015, Staff report, NASCAR.com

Weather cancels qualifying, setting grid by Practice 1 times

RELATED: Full lineup for Sunday's race

Threatening weather canceled Saturday afternoon's Coors Light Pole Qualifying at Daytona International Speedway, handing Dale Earnhardt Jr. the No. 1 starting spot for Sunday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

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Earnhardt, a three-time winner at the 2.5-mile track, will take the green flag first in Sunday's Coke Zero 400 (7:45 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM). The starting lineup was determined according to the 2015 NASCAR Rule Book, setting the 43-car field according to speeds recorded in Friday's opening practice.
 
Dark storm clouds and the threat of lightning loomed around the speedway, forcing race officials to place qualifying on hold shortly before its scheduled start time of 4:35 p.m. ET. Track officials evacuated the speedway, asking fans to take appropriate shelter. The two-round session was abandoned at 5:51 p.m. ET.
 
Earnhardt led opening Sprint Cup practice Friday with a lap of 202.284 mph in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet. He'll start first for the first time since winning the pole position at Dover International Speedway in September 2013.
 
Austin Dillon, a former Daytona 500 pole winner, will start second Sunday night in the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet. Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard and Trevor Bayne rounded out the top five starters for the 17th of 36 races this season.
 
Several powerhouse teams shied away from practicing in large packs Friday, opting to avoid the risks associated with close-quarters aerodynamic drafts. While many of those avoided the crash at the 10-minute mark of first practice that involved 11 cars, their slower speeds registered in single-car runs will relegate them to the back half of the field.
 
Kevin Harvick, the defending Sprint Cup Series champion and current points leader, will start 34th in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet. Aric Almirola, last year's Coke Zero 400 winner, will start 36th in the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Ford.
 
Ryan Blaney and Michael McDowell failed to qualify for the 43-car field.