RICHMOND, Va. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. knows some fans are upset about his plan to drive a replica of his father's famous No. 3 car at Daytona in July, but thinks it is a fitting way to honor the seven-time champion's NASCAR Hall of Fame induction.

"I think everybody knows I'm pretty careful about all that kind of stuff," he said Friday at Richmond International Raceway. "It just seems like a reasonable opportunity and it seemed like if there is a time to ever do it, this is one of those times."

Earnhardt announced his plan Thursday to drive the Wrangler car in the Nationwide Series race at Daytona. The announcement came on what would have been his father's 59th birthday. Dale Earnhardt died in a crash in the season-opening Daytona 500 in 2001.

Earnhardt is one of five members of the first class of inductees into the hall of fame, joining NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., Bill France Jr., who spent 30 years running the top series, Richard Petty, the only other seven-time champion, and driver Junior Johnson.

The induction ceremony will be held May 23.

Earnhardt's number is owned by Richard Childress, the car owner he raced for in the Sprint Cup Series, and has not been used in NASCAR's top series since "The Intimidator" died.

Dale Jr., though, doesn't think it's fair to expect it to remain shelved forever.

"It's ridiculous to try to retire numbers or favor numbers for certain drivers," he said. "The 3 meant a lot to Daddy and meant a lot to a lot of race fans, but there's some kid that's growing up that really was never a Dale Earnhardt fan that drives the No. 3 and he might want to be No. 3 all his life, and to not give him that opportunity just ain't fair."

Sprint Cup

Kyle Busch won the pole for tonight's NASCAR race at Richmond International Raceway with a fast lap at 127.077 mph.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver turned the lap as the 19th of 47 cars attempting to qualify, easily beating David Reutimann for the top spot. Reutimann's speed was 126.618 mph.

The pole is just the sixth of Busch's career in NASCAR's premier series, and gives him his choice of pit stalls as he defends his victory in this race a year ago.

Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, who said the air has been cleared in their well-publicized fued of the past two weeks, will start in the second row, followed by Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Jamie McMurray.


A shift to the ovals meant a shift in power in the IndyCar Series.

One of the last drivers of the day, Australian Ryan Briscoe was the fastest qualifier at Kansas Speedway on Friday, ending Will Power's bid for a record-tying fourth consecutive pole.

Briscoe had a four-lap average of 212.145 mph and will start on the front row Saturday with defending champion Scott Dixon in the 300-mile race on the 1 1/2-mile oval.

Defending series champion Dario Franchitti will start on the second row with Hideki Mutoh, who moved up after Dan Wheldon's time was disallowed for driving under the white line.

Heavy rain and hail washed out the early practice session and pushed back the second, leaving drivers an hour of prep time before qualifying.