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Jeffrey Earnhardt wins pole in No. 3 car for Xfinity race at Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. - Jeffrey Earnhardt, grandson of Dale Earnhardt, won the pole in the No. 3 car for Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.

It is the first career Xfinity pole for the 32-year-old and comes in his 136th series start. He earned the pole with a lap of 182.560 mph.

This marks the first start for Earnhardt with Richard Childress Racing, the organization his grandfather won six of his seven Cup championships with. This is a one-race deal.

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

“I’ve always wanted to try and feel like that I’m here because I worked hard enough to be here and I deserve the opportunity,” Earnhardt said Friday. “I feel like that’s how I’ve gone about my whole career. It’s easy for people to think that you were just given a handout. Don’t get me wrong, the last name definitely helps to sell sponsorship. It’s been non-stop.

“Our goal has to be to compete at RCR in the 3 car because it’s a dream of mine. It’s not been easy by any means. I’ve been blessed with many opportunities throughout the years that I’ve been racing. I’ll forever be thankful for every one of them because they don’t come easy. Now we’re here and we’re in the 3 car and driving for Richard (Childress) and sitting on the pole for the race (Saturday).

“It’s incredible. Really has me speechless. This is what we hoped to happen. I didn’t know for sure that I would be capable of it. Obviously, Richard brings fast cars, and I feel like I’m a good driver, but you never know until you are given the opportunity. We were able to put it together today. Hopefully, we can do the same (Saturday).”

Austin Hill completed the all-RCR front row by qualifying second at 182.351 mph. Ty Gibbs (182.223 mph) will start third. Sheldon Creed (182.091) qualified fourth. Daniel Hemric (181.711) completed the top five. Landon Cassill (181.677) will start sixth.

Ryan Vargas qualified a career-best seventh after a lap of 181.663 mph for JD Motorsports. Kaz Grala, driving in the first of two races for Big Machine Racing, qualified eighth at 181.371 mph.

Failing to qualify were Natalie Decker, CJ McLaughlin and Jesse Iwuji.