Austin Dillon puts on his helmet as practice begins at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2016 in Daytona, Florida. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI | License Photo
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Just because Austin Dillon is no longer in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, that doesn't mean the driver of the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet has forgotten how to go fast.
Dillon sped around 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway in 28.081 seconds (192.301 mph) in the final round of Friday's knockout qualifying session to earn the pole for Sunday's AAA Texas 500 (2 p.m. ET on NBC), the second race in the Chase's Round of 8.
"I can't be happier for RCR and everybody back at the shop," said Dillon, who won his second Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his first at Texas and the third of his career. "A lot of hard work and effort goes on. We missed the Chase by just two feet (eliminated in the Round of 12 at Talladega on a tiebreaker).
"We want to prove that we can win a race by the end of this year. This is big for us. I thought I messed up the lap, truthfully. I got a lot of good speed off of (Turn) 2, but Turn 3 I turned in and missed my corner, but it worked out. Proud of these guys and everybody back home."
Chase driver Joey Logano, who ran the fastest lap of the qualifying session (194.266 mph) in the first of three rounds, lost the pole to Dillon by .006 seconds. Logano also started second in the spring race at the 1.5-miler, and last week he fell .008 seconds short of Martin Truex Jr.'s pole-winning effort at Martinsville.
"I got done with that last run, and I honestly didn't think it would be close to the pole," Logano said. "I didn't have a good (Turns) 1 and 2 at all--it got really tight, kind of missed the bottom.
"And then, realizing how close you were to the pole afterwards is the most frustrating part of it, especially after last week. We missed it by thousandths this week and six last week--so we're getting closer. You just think about how close that is when you're going about 200 miles an hour."
Chase driver Kevin Harvick (192.178 mph) qualified third, followed by non-Chasers Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson and Paul Menard. The remaining six Chase drivers will start as follows: Matt Kenseth, seventh; Carl Edwards, ninth; Kurt Busch, 10th; Denny Hamlin, 17th; Jimmie Johnson, 19th; and Kyle Busch 24th.
In a backup car necessitated by a crash in Friday's opening practice, Kyle Busch ran the second fastest lap in the first round, but a water leak from the No. 18 Toyota--the result of a hose that detached from the engine block--forced the car behind the wall and out of the subsequent rounds.
"I think it's a byproduct of pounding the fence before we even completed a lap in practice," said Adam Stevens, Busch's crew chief. "In our hurry to change the motor and all the drivetrain afterwards, apparently we didn't get the lower radiator hose completely clamped on the water neck out of the block and proceeded to dump all the water out of it on pit road after our first run.
"We're going to start 24th and get after them from there."
Busch currently is fourth in the Chase standings, four points ahead of Logano, but he'll start 22 positions (the equivalent of 22 points) behind the second-place qualifier.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying -- AAA Texas 500
Texas Motor Speedway
Fort Worth, Texas
Friday, November 04, 2016
1. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 192.301 mph.
2. (22) Joey Logano (C), Ford, 192.260 mph.
3. (4) Kevin Harvick (C), Chevrolet, 192.178 mph.
4. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 192.130 mph.
5. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 191.959 mph.
6. (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 191.523 mph.
7. (20) Matt Kenseth (C), Toyota, 191.381 mph.
8. (21) Ryan Blaney #, Ford, 191.272 mph.
9. (19) Carl Edwards (C), Toyota, 190.988 mph.
10. (41) Kurt Busch (C), Chevrolet, 190.543 mph.
11. (24) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 190.429 mph.
12. (78) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 189.560 mph.
13. (13) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 191.232 mph.
14. (47) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 191.191 mph.
15. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 191.049 mph.
16. (88) Alex Bowman(i), Chevrolet, 190.894 mph.
17. (11) Denny Hamlin (C), Toyota, 190.826 mph.
18. (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 190.577 mph.
19. (48) Jimmie Johnson (C), Chevrolet, 189.520 mph.
20. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 189.195 mph.
21. (43) Aric Almirola, Ford, 188.659 mph.
22. (10) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 187.878 mph.
23. (14) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 19.198 mph.
24. (18) Kyle Busch (C), Toyota, 194.056 mph.
25. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 191.144 mph.
26. (6) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 190.759 mph.
27. (15) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 190.732 mph.
28. (95) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 190.523 mph.
29. (44) Brian Scott #, Ford, 190.328 mph.
30. (34) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 190.315 mph.
31. (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 190.215 mph.
32. (7) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 189.907 mph.
33. (83) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 189.900 mph.
34. (38) Landon Cassill, Ford, 189.069 mph.
35. (93) Ryan Ellis(i), Toyota, 188.495 mph.
36. (23) David Ragan, Toyota, 187.643 mph.
37. (46) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 186.832 mph.
38. (55) Reed Sorenson, Toyota, 184.200 mph.
39. (32) Joey Gase(i), Ford, 182.063 mph.
40. (30) Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 180.741 mph.