NASCAR Richmond Starting Lineup 2012: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Wins Pole Position

NASCAR's most popular driver will lead the start of one of NASCAR's biggest races.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the pole position for the Richmond Chase cutoff race on Friday afternoon, and he'll start up front in Saturday night's race – his P1 in qualifying since the 2011 Daytona 500.

Earnhardt Jr. was the only driver to top 127 mph (127.023), and he'll start on the front row alongside Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon – who has much more at stake on Saturday night.

Gordon must either win the race or finish ahead of Kyle Busch in the regular season point standings while hoping another one-win driver doesn't get the final Chase wild card spot with a victory.

"It's really Kyle's to lose," Gordon said. "For us, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. ... I'm just thankful we've performed as well as we have the last couple weeks to give ourselves a shot."

Regan Smith, Clint Bowyer and Hendrick's Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top five. Busch will start 15th, which will put a bit more pressure on the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.

JJ Yeley and Mark Green failed to qualify for Saturday's race.

Here is the starting lineup for Saturday night's NASCAR Chase cutoff race at Richmond International Raceway:

  1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  2. Jeff Gordon
  3. Regan Smith
  4. Clint Bowyer
  5. Jimmie Johnson
  6. Mark Martin
  7. Denny Hamlin
  8. Joey Logano
  9. Martin Truex Jr.
  10. Brad Keselowski
  11. Sam Hornish Jr.
  12. Landon Cassill
  13. Kevin Harvick
  14. Ryan Newman
  15. Kyle Busch
  16. Carl Edwards
  17. Matt Kenseth
  18. Aric Almirola
  19. Michael McDowell
  20. Jeff Burton
  21. Kasey Kahne
  22. Marcos Ambrose
  23. Greg Biffle
  24. Juan Pablo Montoya
  25. Paul Menard
  26. Jamie McMurray
  27. David Ragan
  28. Tony Stewart
  29. Bobby Labonte
  30. Kurt Busch
  31. David Stremme
  32. Travis Kvapil
  33. Dave Blaney
  34. David Gilliland
  35. Joe Nemechek
  36. Stephen Leicht
  37. David Reutimann
  38. Scott Riggs
  39. Ken Schrader
  40. Mike Bliss
  41. Josh Wise
  42. Casey Mears
  43. Reed Sorenson
DNQ: JJ Yeley, Mark Green
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