Austin Dillon was awarded the pole for Sunday’s Auto Club 400 with his second round time after none of the drivers made it to the start-finish in time to make a lap in the final round of qualifying.
Dillon, who was fastest in both the first and second round, won his fourth career pole by virtue of his lap of 39.982 seconds, 180.081 mph in Round 2.
“We had a good car off the trailer,” Dillon said. “They made some good adjustments going into qualifying. And we kept the speed that we needed. It came down to Round 2 and putting the placement right. Andy Houston (spotter) did a great job. We didn’t panic.”
In Round 2, all the drivers except Kurt Busch, who made a lap by himself, left pit road with about 1 minute, 10 seconds left and were able to make a timed lap.
Based on the second round times, Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Blaney, Jimmie Johnson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. completed the top-12 starters.
“We blew it, but at least we all did,” Logano said. “The answer is to go sooner but nobody wants to be the first one out there. I don’t know really what to say. We have something to talk about now I guess. I don’t know what to tell you. That is the game. It is just part of it.”
Kyle Larson, who won at Auto Club in 2017, qualified 15th after he was the lead car in the second round. Last week, Larson qualified 31st at ISM Raceway when he did not make it around in time to post a second lap.
“After last week you don’t want to mess up and not get a lap again,” Larson said. “So, just trying to be as patient as you can be but still not be the lead car. But we wanted to leave ourselves some time.”
Defending race winner Martin Truex Jr. did not advance out of Round 1 and qualified 27th.
“It was just that he (Cody Ware) ran the bottom in three and four, which is where I wanted to be,” Truex Jr. said. “Since he was just leaving the pits, he ran high to get his momentum up like normal and just missed the bottom there and that obviously hurt our speed there off three and four. It’s unfortunate, we missed it today off the hauler.”
Newman’s No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford failed pre-qualifying inspection twice, and car chief Todd Brewer has been ejected from Sunday’s race as a result. Newman also will lose 15 minutes of practice time for the violation.
Teams will get two practice sessions in on Saturday.