SONOMA, Calif.—Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a strong qualifying lap in the works on Saturday morning at Sonoma Raceway until he ran up behind a slower car in the racing groove.
With his progress impeded, Earnhardt failed to advance to the final round of the first knockout qualifying session on a road course and had to settle for the 17th starting spot for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350, the 16th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season.
“We had a good lap going, but the No. 66 (Tomy Drissi) ran in the racing groove on his get up (to speed) lap and didn’t get out of the way,” said Earnhardt, who had been fast in both of Friday’s practice sessions. “We missed the top 12. We would have made it.
“We ran about a tenth slower than our best lap going around him on the outside of Turn 9. That’s real disappointing, but the car has been great. Hopefully, we’ll be able to have a good run Sunday starting kind of mid-pack. It’s going to be a little busy where we are going to be, but hopefully we can move forward.”