In one of the most unusual NASCAR Cup qualifying sessions ever seen, the 12 drivers in the final round of Friday’s qualifying at Auto Club Speedway waited and hesitated in an attempt to try and beat the clock – and all lost as a result.
Not one of the dozen drivers that advanced to the third and final qualifying round managed to cross the finish line at the 2-mile high speed oval in time to make a successful run before time expired.
As a result, the fastest driver in the second qualifying round, Austin Dillon, earned the pole for Sunday’s Auto Club 400 with his effort of 180.081 mph, his fourth career pole in 198 Cup races — and his second pole in six starts at the Fontana, California, track. Kevin Harvick (179.386 mph) will start alongside Dillon on the front row.
“It was wild,” Dillon told Fox Sports 1. “That was fun. … It feels good to get that pole because that’s wild there. We just waited and no one wanted to make it, I knew it reverted back to us. That’s a good way to win it (the pole).”
The rest of the top 12 qualifiers were Aric Almirola (179.082 mph) and Kyle Busch (178.895) on Row 2, Joey Logano (178.891) and Denny Hamlin (178.607) in Row 3, Ryan Newman (178.509) and Chase Elliott (178.412) in Row 4, Clint Bowyer (178.359) and Ryan Blaney (178.315) in Row 5 and Jimmie Johnson (178.306) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (178.196) in Row 6.
* Chase Elliott spun in the first round of qualifying but was able to regroup and finished that round third-fastest.
* Ryan Newman’s car chief, Todd Brewer, was ejected for the remainder of the weekend and the No. 6 team was docked 15 minutes in Saturday’s final practice after the car failed pre-qualifying inspection twice.
* There will be two final Cup practices Saturday from 12:05 – 12:55 p.m. ET, and from 3:30 – 4:20 p.m. ET.
* Sunday’s Auto Club 400 (200 laps/400 miles) will take the green flag at 3:30 p.m. ET (Fox, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).