Earnhardt was similarly non-plussed with his efforts on Friday afternoon. "It wasn't anything special," he admitted. "We just kind of struggled all day trying to find speed in the car ... It's not going to be the best starting spot. We'll just have to race hard."
Earnhardt will start just ahead of an all-Chase eighth row consisting of Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick, while Matt Kenseth ended up a distant 25th place for the start of Sunday's race.
However Denny Hamlin was the worst qualifier among the Chase contenders, ending up in 32nd place on the starting grid after his team put on tyres inflated at the wrong pressure for qualifying.
"I knew something was wrong," he said after his run. "We ended up having race pressures and we didn't put our qualifying pressures in, so that was a tough one. I knew something was really, really wrong because we were just - the car was bobbing down real bad - but simple mistake.
"That's frustrating," he admitted. "Holy cow - I knew something had to be wrong. If there was nothing wrong than I would really be shaking my head. At least we identified what the problem was."
Rookie Josh Wise initially qualified for the 43-car line-up, but subsequently had his lap times disallowed after it was found that his rear shock absorber was pressurised above permitted levels. He will join Scott Riggs, Jason Leffler and Jeff Green on the sidelines on Sunday, while David Stremme benefits from Wise's misfortune and makes the start after all.
Full qualifying and practice 1 times