ThatsRacin

Austin Dillon wins pole for NASCAR’s Auto Club 400

Austin Dillon crosses the front straightaway during the opening practice session Friday, March 18, 2016, for the NASCAR auto race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Dillon was quickest in the opening practice session.
Austin Dillon crosses the front straightaway during the opening practice session Friday, March 18, 2016, for the NASCAR auto race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Dillon was quickest in the opening practice session. AP Photo

Austin Dillon was ready to win another NASCAR Sprint Cup pole.

Dillon, who won the Daytona 500 pole as a rookie in 2014, did it again Friday at Auto Club Speedway, where he will start first in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 in his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevy. Dillon’s lap of 188.482 mph edged Kevin Harvick, last weekend’s race winner at Phoenix. Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman will start on the second row.

“This means the world to me,” Dillon said. “It feels like a career day for me to win a pole at somewhere else besides Daytona. We obviously have a car with speed in it, now we’ll see how it does (Sunday).”

Next up for Dillon, he hopes, is his first series victory.

“I’ve won in Xfinity and in Trucks,” he said. “When you win, everything comes easier.”

Notes

▪ Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are running with special paint schemes this weekend to help promote the upcoming movie, “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Johnson’s No. 48 Chevy will be painted in Superman colors with the Man of Steel’s logo on the hood, and Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevy will be gray with the bat symbol on the hood.

▪ Qualifying for the TreatMyClot.com 300 Xfinity race will be at 12:15 p.m. Saturday, with the race at 4 p.m.

Points leader Daniel Suarez continues to look for his first series victory, and he knows he might have to go through Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch to do so. Busch has won all three Xfinity races this season in which he has competed.

“We’re battling with one of the best drivers out there – not just in the Xfinity Series, in the Cup Series,” Suarez said. “He’s just last year’s (Cup) champion, so I really think that we’re learning from the best or one of the best out there.

“When we get our opportunity to move up to Cup, we’re going to be battle with 15 Kyles, so we will have to learn to be pushing ourselves to this point and trying to learn from the best.”

JGR swept the top three spots in last week’s race at Phoenix, with Busch winning, followed by Erik Jones and Suarez.

▪ Former NFL star John Lynch will drive the pace car for Sunday’s Cup race.

▪ A swarm of bees took over the flag stand Friday at Auto Club Speedway, forcing NASCAR to use a temporary platform during Sprint Cup qualifying. A NASCAR spokesman referred to the bees as “less than happy,” and said “we have worked to resolve the situation” in time for Saturday and Sunday’s races.

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