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Rookie Dillon wins historic Daytona 500 pole

Austin Dillon has clinched pole position for the opening race of his rookie season in the Sprint Cup Series, and in a historic return for the #3.
Just having one of this year's rookie class of drivers succeed in claiming pole position for the Daytona 500 would ordinarily have been a big enough story. But in this case, that achievement was somewhat eclipsed by the identity of the car that he was driving.

The black #3 is firmly linked in people's minds with its most famous driver, Dale Earnhardt, who died at the wheel of the car 13 years ago while competing in this very event.

Richard Childress has now made the somewhat controversial decision to finally bring the car number out of retirement for this year's Sprint Cup Series championship, placing it in the hands of his grandson Austin Dillon for the 23-year-old's maiden year of full-time Cup competition.

Dillon - who has already won championships in the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide in 2011 and 2013 respectively - has rewarded Childress' faith by immediately landing pole position for the inaugural race of 2014 with a lap of 45.914s (196.019mph.)

"I know this is just qualifying, but it's great for [Richard Childress Racing]," said Dillon after sealing his first pole position for a Cup race. "You never know the next time you'll be standing in this position again, so it's awesome.

"I just want to thank our family back home at RCR. They've done such a good job: fab shop, engine shop, everybody, my guys," he added. "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."

It was an impressive performance all round for RCR, which had dominated Saturday's practice session resulting in new signing Ryan Newman setting the fifth fastest time on the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway on Sunday afternoon, and the team's other full-time driver Paul Menard also finishing in the top ten.

It was also a notable success for RCR's engine providers Earnhardt Childress Racing, whose Chevrolet unit also powered Martin Truex Jr. to second place alongside Dillon on the front row of the grid after running just 0.039s shy of the pole lap.

It's the second time Truex will have started from the front row of the Daytona 500, as he also won the pole in 2009. Truex will be making his first Cup race appearance for new team Furniture Row Racing, following his exit from Michael Waltrip Racing at the end of 2013 as a result of the team's involvement in the Richmond 'race rigging' scandal in September.

The Daytona 500 is the only race in 2014 that is retaining individual single lap time trials as a part of its qualifying procedure.

However, only Dillon and Truex are currently assured of their starting positions as a result of Sunday's qualifying session. In the case of the other drivers, Sunday's session merely sets their starting position for Thursday's night's two Duel races, the outcome of which will determine their actual starting positions for the Daytona 500 itself.

Three drivers who already know they will be starting from the back of the grid next weekend are Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick and Bobby Labonte as a result of their suffering engine blowouts in practice on Saturday.

Although nominally locked in on the front row, Dillon and Truex Jr. could even yet suffer the same fate of being sent to the back of the grid before the start of the race if they were to suffer blowups of their own or other practice damage in the week leading up the race, if it were to result in taking to a backup car.

See full qualifying times.



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Crew members push the #3 DOW Chevrolet, driven by Austin Dillon, through the garage area during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 16, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 DOW Chevrolet, stands in the garage area after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 16, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 DOW Chevrolet, qualifies for pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 16, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 DOW Chevrolet, poses for a photo with the Coors Light pole award and Miss Coors Light Rachel Rupert after winning pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 16, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #9 Stanley Ford, poses with his team before his last race, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane with team owner Dale Earnhardt jr. after winning the series championship during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Napa Auto Parts Chevrolet, wins the EnjoyIllinois.com 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, and Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, burn out as Crafton celebrates winning the series championship and Wallace celebrates winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, and his daughter Elladee take part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS, who is in the Championship Four final phase of the Chase, qualified for 21st position Friday, November 14, 2014 for Sunday`s final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Newman is 3rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings.(Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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draml

February 17, 2014 8:14 AM
Last Edited 279 days ago

He's absolutely, definitely won pole and that's what the record books will say come what may. But if he crashes in practice in the meantime so that he needs to take to the backup car he could still be sent to the back during the formation laps before the race - exactly that happened to Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2011. Yeah, it's confusing. But that's the NASCAR rules for you!

theeagle

February 17, 2014 1:53 AM

Im a bit confused. Why do Crashnet say Dillion is on pole if he could yet have a blow up during the week and end up at the back of the grid? In this sense he is therefore not on pole for the 500.



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