By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
FORT WORTH, Texas — On an extremely busy day for Austin Dillon, he surprised everyone by capturing the pole for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
“I don’t know about the lap. I changed my line a little bit, looking at dart fish. It worked out for me,” said a stunned Dillon after his run. “I thought I hurt myself cause I changed my line, but it actually made me faster through one and two. I was watching Harvick’s line and I changed it to kind of mimic his, and we went faster. Just glad our fall off was good. We get to start from the pole and have the number one pit stall.”
Dillon, who is also in the field for Friday night’s Truck Series event, bumped Joey Logano from the pole by six-one-thousandths of a second late in the final round of qualifying. This marks Dillon’s second pole of the 2016 season, and it’s the third pole position of his Sprint Cup Series career.
For Dillon its been a breakout year, as he made the Chase for the first time, and he missed out making it to the Round of 8 by just one point. Now Dillon will attempt to be a Chase spoiler on Sunday as he continues to chase his first-ever victory in the Cup Series.
Logano led all Chase contenders by qualifying second, while Kevin Harvick will start third. Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson rounded out the top-five qualifiers on Friday.
For Logano, a chance to lock himself into the championship race at Homestead is on the line on Sunday.
“Man I got done with that last run, and I honestly didn’t think it was going to be close to the pole,” said Logano after qualifying. “I didn’t have a very good [turns] one and two at all. I got really tight and kind of missed the bottom. And then realizing how close you were to the pole afterwards is the most frustrating part of it.”
Logano may not have hit all of his marks during his qualifying run, but he starts second for the second week in a row. Texas is a track where Logano has won in the past, but it’s also the scene of one of his more disappointing days of his career. Needing a win last year to advance in the Chase, Logano cut a tire early in the event. Logano will look to put the demons of a year ago in the rear view mirror.
Kyle Busch will start furthest back of all the Chasers on Sunday, as he will roll from the grid in the 24th position. Busch advanced to the second round, but was unable to take any laps in the second session because during the cool off period between sessions his car began to leak water. Busch’s crew chief Adam Stevens explained that the team didn’t clamp the radiator hose tight enough when they were getting the backup car ready for practice earlier in the day.
Here is where all of the Chase drivers will line up on Sunday:
2. Joey Logano
3. Kevin Harvick
7. Matt Kenseth
9. Carl Edwards
10. Kurt Busch
17. Denny Hamlin
19. Jimmie Johnson (Locked in to Championship race)
24. Kyle Busch