Austin Dillon marked the return of the iconic No. 3 to the NASCAR Sprint Cup by earning pole for the 2014 Daytona 500.
Richard Childress Racing rookie Dillon is the first man to use No. 3 in the Cup series since the death of Dale Earnhardt 13 years ago.
Having been fastest in January’s official test at Daytona and among the front-runners in practice all weekend, reigning Nationwide Series champion Dillon was among the pole favourites from the outset. His 45.914-second, 196.019mph lap was sufficient to depose Greg Biffle’s Roush Fenway Ford from provisional pole.
Martin Truex Jr. came close to denying Dillon, but fell 0.039s short as he secured second place on his debut with Furniture Row.
Dillon and Truex’s starting positions for next Sunday’s race are now set, while the rest of the field will be decided by Thursday night’s Duel qualifying races.
Biffle was pushed back to third, ahead of teammate Carl Edwards and the second Childress car of Ryan Newman.
First man out Dale Earnhardt Jr. held on to provisional pole for most of the afternoon, unbeaten until Biffle – 33rd in the qualifying line – came out. The Hendrick driver eventually fell to seventh.
Reigning champion and 2013 Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson was 14th, with Sprint Unlimited victor Denny Hamlin 22nd.
Last year’s Daytona polesitter Danica Patrick was only 25th this time and will have to start at the back following an engine change after Saturday practice.
(All photos by LAT)
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Austin Dillon Childress Chevrolet 45.914s 2. Martin Truex Jr Furniture Row Chevrolet 45.953s +0.039s 3. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 45.961s +0.047s 4. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 45.986s +0.072s 5. Ryan Newman Childress Chevrolet 45.987s +0.073s 6. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford 46.084s +0.170s 7. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 46.104s +0.190s 8. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 46.144s +0.230s 9. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford 46.153s +0.239s 10. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 46.173s +0.259s 11. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 46.179s +0.265s 12. Brian Scott Childress Chevrolet 46.207s +0.293s 13. Aric Almirola Petty Ford 46.235s +0.321s 14. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 46.240s +0.326s 15. Joey Logano Penske Ford 46.253s +0.339s 16. Casey Mears Germain Ford 46.253s +0.339s 17. Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Toyota 46.255s +0.341s 18. Michael Annett Baldwin Chevrolet 46.255s +0.341s 19. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 46.262s +0.348s 20. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota 46.267s +0.353s 21. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota 46.272s +0.358s 22. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota 46.278s +0.364s 23. Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 46.291s +0.377s 24. Kyle Larson Ganassi Chevrolet 46.294s +0.380s 25. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 46.301s +0.387s 26. Trevor Bayne Wood Brothers Ford 46.312s +0.398s 27. AJ Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Chevrolet 46.366s +0.452s 28. Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 46.373s +0.459s 29. Reed Sorenson Baldwin Chevrolet 46.376s +0.462s 30. Justin Allgaier Hscott Chevrolet 46.436s +0.522s 31. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 46.455s +0.541s 32. Landon Cassill Circle Sport Chevrolet 46.456s +0.542s 33. Parker Kligerman Swan Toyota 46.489s +0.575s 34. Michael Waltrip Waltrip Toyota 46.529s +0.615s 35. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 46.544s +0.630s 36. Eric McClure Front Row Ford 46.655s +0.741s 37. Brian Vickers Waltrip Toyota 46.681s +0.767s 38. Jamie McMurray Ganassi Chevrolet 46.706s +0.792s 39. Cole Whitt Swan Toyota 46.744s +0.830s 40. David Ragan Front Row Ford 46.795s +0.881s 41. Michael McDowell Leavine Ford 46.804s +0.890s 42. Terry Labonte Go FAS Ford 46.842s +0.928s 43. Josh Wise Parsons Chevrolet 46.860s +0.946s 44. Bobby Labonte Hscott Chevrolet 46.999s +1.046s 45. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 47.249s +1.288s 46. Ryan Truex BK Toyota 47.282s +1.296s 47. Alex Bowman BK Toyota 47.447s +1.460s 48. Morgan Shepherd Shepherd Toyota 47.483s +1.399s 49. Dave Blaney Humphrey Ford