Another Rookie Wins The Pole For The Daytona 500
For the second season in a row, a high profile rookie will start the Daytona 500 from the pole position.
A year after Danica Patrick won the pole for NASCAR’s biggest event in her first full season in Sprint Cup, first-year driver Austin Dillon earned the right to lead the field to the green flag in the 2014 500. Dillon, driving the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, posted the top speed in Sunday’s qualifying session.
Dillon covered the 2.5 miles at DIS in 45.914 seconds (196.019 mph).
The pole was Dillon’s first in 14 attempts.
Dillon, 23, edged second-place qualifier Martin Truex Jr. (195.852 mph) of Furniture Row Racing for the top starting spot, but both drivers are locked into the front row for the 500 and will lead their respective fields to green in Thursday night’s Budweiser Duel at Daytona 150-lap qualifying races.
“It’s nice to get in the car,” Dillon said. “I feel like this is all for the guys at RCR. They brought the house down here. Our engine has been really good since we have been here. (RCR teammate Ryan) Newman had a good run. It would have been really cool to get one-two. Hopefully we can finish off this effort right here. Just proud of my guys.”
Truex Jr. earned P2 in his first attempt after taking over for Kurt Busch at FRR. Truex’s Chevy, like Dillon’s, was powered by an engine built by Earnhardt Childress Racing.
“Yeah front row that is what we are here for today,” Truex said. “Obviously can’t say enough about this team. What a great job I think we have got about seven miles on this car. One run yesterday, no testing down here, just an amazing job by Todd (Berrier, crew chief) and Cole (team engineer) and everybody on the team. Obviously pretty lucky guy to get to hold the wheel. ECR engines front row, we are lucky to have them under the hood and just have to thank everyone for the hard work. Really excited about the rest of Speedweeks.”
Roush Fenway Racing teammates Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards qualified third and fourth, respectively, and will start on the outside of the front row in their respective Duels, which will determine the starting order of positions 3 through 32 in the Daytona 500.
Newman and Brad Keselowski were fifth and sixth fastest during the time trials.
For the first three quarters of the session, Dale Earnhardt Jr. had the upper hand.
The first driver to make a qualifying attempt, Earnhardt ran 195.211 mph on his money lap—and waited. One by one, his rivals fired and fell back, until Biffle, the 32nd driver to post a time, cracked the 46-second mark and knocked Earnhardt off the provisional pole.
Earnhardt, the 2004 Daytona 500 winner, wound up seventh.
“It’s hard to celebrate, because I know this is just qualifying,” Dillon said, “but it’s great for these guys (the team). You never know the next time you’ll be standing in this position again. So it’s awesome; just want to thank our family back home at RCR. They’ve done such a good job — fab shop, engine shop, everybody, my guys.
“It’s all them. I hoped I didn’t mess it up. We knew we had a fast car, and we brought it back, so it’s good.”6 Comments