Dillon Drives to Auto Club Pole
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on March 18, 2016 | 8:41 P.M. EST
Dillon became the fourth different pole winner this season. (Photo: Getty Images)
Austin Dillon backed up his fast practice time to take his second career pole in qualifying for Sunday's Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.
Dillon toured the two-mile Auto Club Speedway with a lap of 188.482 mph to score his first pole of the season and second in the series. His first came two years ago when he won the Daytona 500 pole.
“A Daytona 500 pole sitter, now I got a pole somewhere else,” an elated Dillon said. “To do it at a driver’s race track like this at Fontana it means a lot to me. Just proud of this American Ethanol team we’ve had fast cars all year long.
“I knew going into that third session if I didn’t make mistakes I would have a shot. I just stayed with it off of (Turn) 4. I kept my locker locked as much as I could with the gas just keeping as much fuel to the car as I could. It worked out for us.”
He is the fourth different pole winner of 2016.
“Just proud to put that No. 3 back where it needs to be,” Dillon said. “Hopefully, we can do this a few more times this year.”
Last week’s Phoenix winner Kevin Harvick will flank the Richard Childress Racing driver.
“Good effort by Rodney and the team getting the car ready,” Harvick said. “This track is a challenge with its bumps and rough surface and the lower downfroce makes them harder to drive but we’ve got a good car and looking forward to Sunday.
“Our goal was to run the same lap time all three rounds usually that is going to put you in a spot to have a chance, but all-in-all it’s been a good start to the weekend and really looking forward to the race on Sunday.”
Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards rounded out the top five.
Kyle Busch, Trevor Bayne, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano and Jamie McMurray completed the top ten qualifiers.
Other notable starters in Sunday’s field include last year’s Auto Club 400 winner Brad Keselowski (15th), Jimmie Johnson (19th), Matt Kenseth (20th), Kurt Busch (26th) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (27th).
For qualifying, a swarm of bees invaded the flag stand forcing NASCAR officials to use a temporary platform alongside the fence. The bees were removed and they are not anticipated to cause a problem for Saturday’s activities including the XFINITY Series race.
Sprint Cup Series drivers will have two practice sessions on Saturday.