By AMANDA VINCENT
Austin Dillon claimed his second-career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole on Friday, turning in a 38.200-second/188.482 mph lap in the third and final round of qualifying at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., to take the top starting spot for Sunday’s Auto Club 400. It was his first pole since the 2014 Daytona 500.
“This means the world to me to get another pole,” Dillon said. “I had a pole, and it was looming. It was Daytona, that one for, kind of, one for the guys. This one is, too. I feel like I gave them a little bit more effort, here.”
Kevin Harvick will start alongside Dillon on the front row Sunday, while Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman take the green flag from row two.
Dillon’s pole-winning lap was faster than the old track qualifying record, but it wasn’t the lap credited with setting a new record. Instead, that honor went to Hamlin, who turned in the fastest lap of the qualifying session in the second round — a new record of 38.194 seconds/188.511 mph.
The old record actually was first broken in round one with Brad Keselowski’s fast lap that Dillon wound up mirroring in round three. But by the time of Dillon’s lap, Hamlin had already gone faster in the previous round. Even though Keselowski was fastest in the opening round, he was unable to post a fast enough lap in round two to advance to the final round and compete for the pole.
Here is the complete starting grid for the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway:
Row 1 — Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet), Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Chevrolet)
Row 2 — Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota), Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet)
Row 3 — Carl Edwards (No. 19 Toyota), Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota)
Row 4 — Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford), Chase Elliott (No. 24 Chevrolet)
Row 5 — Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford), Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet)
Row 6 — A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet), Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet)
Row 7 — Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet), Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Ford)
Row 8 — Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford), Chris Buescher (No. 34 Ford)
Row 9 — Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Toyota), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford)
Row 10 — Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet), Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota)
Row 11 — Brian Scott (No. 44 Ford), Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ford)
Row 12 — Casey Mears (No. 13 Chevrolet), Brian Vickers (No. 14 Chevrolet)
Row 13 — Aric Almirola (No. 43 Ford), Kurt Busch (No. 41 Chevrolet)
Row 14 — Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet), Regan Smith (No. 7 Chevrolet)
Row 15 — Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Chevrolet), Michael McDowell (No. 95 Chevrolet)
Row 16 — Danica Patrick (No. 10 Chevrolet), Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet)
Row 17 — Matt DiBenedetto (No. 83 Toyota), Landon Cassill (No. 38 Ford)
Row 18 — David Ragan (No. 23 Toyota), Cole Whitt (No. 98 Chevrolet)
Row 19 — Josh Wise (No. 30 Chevrolet), Michael Annett (No. 46 Chevrolet)
Row 20 — Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 32 Ford)
Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook: NASCAR Examiner