Silence turns to cheers in Texas

FORT WORTH, Tex. --- Michael McDowell created a scary silence Friday at the Texas Motor Speedway; Dale Earnhardt Jr. had everyone screaming.

Both drivers were spectacular during pole qualifying for the Samsung 500, but for opposite reasons. McDowell crashed violently in the first and second turns with his car barrel-rolling at least eight times before coming to a fiery stop. Seconds later, he walked away unhurt. Earnhardt followed with a pole-winning run.

The 1-hour, 12-minute delay to repair the Steel and Foam Energy Reduction barrier allowed shadows to engulf the 1.5-mile speedway, and that helped Earnhardt run 190.907 mph. But even he was consumed by the violence of McDowell's accident.

"We all held our breath there for a few seconds," Earnhardt said. "I was really happy to see him get out. That was a hard hit."

McDowell was making his second career start in the No. 00 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing. After completing his first lap of time trials, the car wiggled as it entered the first turn, and it snapped to the right, sending McDowell into the outside wall at more than 180 mph. It bounced off the wall and rolled down the high banks until it stopped at the beginning of the back straightaway.

"That's one of the worst wrecks I've seen for sure in a while," McDowell said. "I'm not excited that I had to participate in it.

"I feel fine. I feel great. Nothing broke, I felt every roll down the hill. I didn't close my eyes. I just kind of rode it out. Like I said, they make these cars extremely safe. They spend extra time to pad everything up."

McDowell still will race Sunday (2 p.m., Fox-Ch. 54) since Waltrip is ranked among the top 35 in the car owner standings. Since he will switch to a backup car, he will start last.

Earnhardt will be first.

Don Coble can be reached at don.coble@morris.com.

After Friday qualifying; race Sunday

At Texas Motor Speedway

Fort Worth, Texas

Lap length: 1.5 miles

(Car number in parentheses)

1. (88) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 190.907 mph.

2. (99) Carl Edwards, Ford, 189.487.

3. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 189.069.

4. (12) Ryan Newman, Dodge, 189.043.

5. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 188.772.

6. (44) David Reutimann, Toyota, 188.732.

7. (6) David Ragan, Ford, 188.534.

8. (17) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 188.475.

9. (84) Mike Skinner, Toyota, 188.390.

10. (9) Kasey Kahne, Dodge, 188.245.

11. (42) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dodge, 188.160.

12. (1) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 188.140.

13. (66) Scott Riggs, Chevrolet, 188.009.

14. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 187.990.

15. (7) Robby Gordon, Dodge, 187.931.

16. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 187.865.

17. (77) Sam Hornish Jr., Dodge, 187.741.

18. (24) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 187.611.

19. (15) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 187.598.

20. (55) Michael Waltrip, Toyota, 187.591.

21. (29) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 187.493.

22. (5) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 187.474.

23. (2) Kurt Busch, Dodge, 187.311.

24. (20) Tony Stewart, Toyota, 187.195.

25. (07) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 187.156.

26. (19) Elliott Sadler, Dodge, 187.007.

27. (10) Patrick Carpentier, Dodge, 186.981.

28. (21) Bill Elliott, Ford, 186.974.

29. (22) Dave Blaney, Toyota, 186.948.

30. (43) Bobby Labonte, Dodge, 186.935.

31. (8) Mark Martin, Chevrolet, 186.793.

32. (26) Jamie McMurray, Ford, 186.645.

33. (96) JJ Yeley, Toyota, 186.220.

34. (01) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 186.047.

35. (31) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 185.995.

36. (83) Brian Vickers, Toyota, 185.752.

37. (34) John Andretti, Chevrolet, 185.669.

38. (28) Travis Kvapil, Ford, 185.631.

39. (70) Jeremy Mayfield, Chevrolet, 185.350.

40. (00) Michael McDowell, Toyota, owner points

41. (38) David Gilliland, Ford, owner points

42. (41) Reed Sorenson, Dodge, owner points

43. (78) Joe Nemechek, Chevrolet, 185.192.

Failed to qualify

44. (40) Dario Franchitti, Dodge, 185.122.

45. (45) Chad McCumbee, Dodge, 183.736.

46. (08) Burney Lamar, Dodge, 181.996.

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