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NASCAR Cup: Austin Dillon’s second-round lap scores him pole in Fontana

during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 15, 2019 in Fontana, California.

By AMANDA VINCENT

A 39.982-second/180.081 mph lap during Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on Friday earned Austin Dillon the pole for Sunday’s Auto Club 400. It’s Dillon’s fourth-career Cup Series pole and his second at ACS.

Although Friday’s qualifying session went three rounds, Dillon’s pole-winning lap came in the second round. With drafting coming into play Friday, drivers didn’t want to be among the first to go out for a lap in the final round. All 12 drivers who advanced to round three waited too long to go out onto the race track, and as a result, none of them posted times in the round. NASCAR set the starting order of the top-12 by the round-two laps that advanced those drivers to the final round.

“Well, a lot of the cars wanted to follow us; they knew we had the car to beat,” Dillon said. “So trying to get us to go was probably a part of that. And then, when the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) made a little bit of a move there, I was going to follow him to have one car to beat. I didn’t have to make it back around. Then the No. 12 (Ryan Blaney) came through the grass. I thought he demolished his car. It looked like he left the ground over there, I don’t know what he hit, but it was pretty wild. At that point, my spotter said, ‘You can bring it around here.’ I knew we had gotten the pole. God never ceases to amaze me, man. It is awesome to see the blessings that have been bestowed on me. It is special.”

Based on second-round laps, Kevin Harvick qualified second to join Dillon on the front row. Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Aric Almirola qualified third and will share row two with Kyle Busch.

“We do the best that we can to try to put ourselves in the best position, and it was just a handful today,” Harvick said.

Joey Logano qualified fifth, joining Harvick and Almirola to give Ford three cars in the top-five of the starting grid. He’ll shared the third row on the grid with Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin.

Dillon’s round-two lap that wound up being his pole-winning lap was the only lap of the qualifying session that clocked in under the 40-second mark. Dillon also led the opening round with a 40.11-second/179.951 mph lap. Logano was second to Dillon in the opening round.

“The cars have had speed each and every weekend, and we’ve kind of taken ourselves out of the race,” Dillon said. “This feels great, and I feel like we had the fastest car at Las Vegas also, but we weren’t able to take home a pole or win. Everyone at RCR puts in so much effort, and this is just a testimate to that. A pole means a lot. It’s been a while. I think the last one was when I got one here a couple of years ago. That’s a long time between poles. It feels good to bring another back.”

Chase Elliott brought out the red flag with a spin in the opening round but still managed the third-fastest lap in the round to advance to round two. He wound up qualifying eighth.

Below, is the starting grid for Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway:

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Posted by on March 16, 2019. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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