Lowe's Starting Line Up Surprises

The go-or-go-homers put on quite a show during qualifying Thursday at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Three of them, to be exact, shook up the field by finishing in the top 11.

Mike Bliss scored an impressive seventh-place spot, surprising even himself. “We weren’t very good in practice and I had no idea how the car would be in qualifying,” Bliss told the media.

Racing veteran and fan favorite “Awesome Bill” Elliott snagged 10th place as he qualified for his 800th Cup start, while Front-Row-Joe Nemechek drove away with 11th. Rookie Scott Speed even managed to pull off a respectable 18th position. Not bad for a dude who has sometimes seemed more concerned about the state of his toenail polish than actually making races.

Unfortunately, there was one Thursday result that should be a surprise, but has now lost its shock value. Once again, Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified well behind his Hendrick Motorsports teammates. Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson will begin the race in third, fourth and fifth respectively. Junior, on the other hand, is stuck back in the pack in 27th. He might as well be racing at Daytona tonight with the amount of traffic he’ll have to swim through to contend for the win.

The bright spot for the #88 team (and anyone else who qualified poorly) is that in a 600-mile race, there’s plenty of time to drive to the front. But if you’re a glass-half-empty type of person, there’s also plenty of time for things to go wrong …

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