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Earnhardt Jr. wins pole for Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - NASCAR is back - and so is Juniormania.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. reclaimed the spotlight in Daytona speedweeks, winning pole position for the Daytona 500 with a lap of 186.089 mph in qualifying Sunday. It's a boost for Earnhardt, who is coming off a couple of disappointing seasons and spent part of the past week facing questions about the 10-year anniversary of his father's death at the track.

Still, Earnhardt was in an upbeat, joking mood after the win. And while he understands the hype his presence on the pole and his family ties are bound to stir up this week, he said, "I wouldn't embrace that. I'm here to race. And I understand the situation and I'm looking forward to seeing how my father is honored and remembered throughout the week, and I'll enjoy that, but I don't really get into the hypothetical, fairy-tale sort of stuff. I just want to focus on my job."

Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jeff Gordon, qualified second. - AP

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