The eight drivers still competing for NASCAR’s Chase took a backseat to Austin Dillon during Friday’s qualifying for Texas AAA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Dillon, who was eliminated from the Chase after the second round, took the pole for Sunday’s race, edging Joey Logano by .006 seconds.
Logano is still in the Chase, as is Kevin Harvick, who starts third. Non-Chase drivers Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson and Paul Menard complete the top six.
It’s been two weeks since Dillon finished barely behind Aric Almirola at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, ending Dillon’s stay in the Chase. But Friday’s pole helped make up for Dillon’s disappointment.
“We missed the Chase by just 2 feet,” Dillon said. “We want to prove that we can win a race by the end of this year. This is big for us.”
Logano, who is fifth in the standings, was clearly disappointed he missed the pole by such a narrow margin.
“I don’t know how many feet that translates into -- or maybe inches,” he said.
▪ Cup-regular Kyle Busch’s victory two weeks ago at Kansas means none of the six remaining drivers in the Xfinity Series Chase have advanced to the championship round. They get another chance Saturday in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m., NBC). Elliott Sadler, Daniel Suarez, Blake Koch, Justin Allgaier, Erik Jones, Ryan Reed, Brendan Gaughan and Darrell Wallace Jr. are all still in contention. Qualifying for the race is set for 11:45 a.m. Saturday.
▪ Two major Xfinity series announcements came Friday:
Matt Tifft will drive next season for Joe Gibbs Racing. Tifft, who is driving after having brain surgery earlier this season, has run a limited Xfinity and Truck series schedules. Tifft has been a student at UNC Charlotte, although he is taking time off from his studies this semester.
Michael Annett will drive fulltime for JR Motorsports’ Xfinity team in 2017. Annett, who is driving in the Cup series this season for HScott Motorsports, will join Charlotte’s William Byron, Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier on the JRM roster. HScott Motorsports is now without drivers for the 2017 season, with Clint Bowyer leaving for Stewart-Haas Racing.
▪ Two weeks after a Truck Series truck ran with a Donald Trump campaign logo and slogan paint scheme at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Reed Sorenson’s No. 55 Chevy will be adorned with a similar scheme during Sunday’s Cup race.