Austin Dillon wins pole for NASCAR Cup Series race
JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — Austin Dillon and Daniel Hemric tuned up for Chicagoland Speedway with a little doubles ping-pong.
Worked out quite well for the Richard Childress Racing teammates.
Dillon won the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race, and Hemric qualified third. According to Dillon, he bonded with his teammate this week by combining for an easy ping-pong victory over Truck driver Brett Moffitt and Austin Peyton, a business manager for Denny Hamlin.
“You can ask Moffitt next time you see him,” Dillon cracked. “It wasn’t much of a match.”
Dillon recorded a fast lap of 30.636 seconds in his Chevrolet. It’s the sixth career pole for the 29-year-old Dillon, who is seeking his first Cup Series win since last year’s Daytona 500.
“You don’t usually see a guy that was 21st and 25th in both practice sessions jump up to the pole but I actually felt really confident in our car in the second practice,” he said.
Kevin Harvick qualified second on a hot, humid Saturday, followed by Hemric, Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch. Harvick is a two-time winner at the bumpy 1.5 mile oval in suburban Chicago.
Joey Logano, who leads the series standings by one point over Kyle Busch, qualified 19th.
Chicagoland has the highest average start for Cup Series winners among active tracks at 14.94, easily clearing New Hampshire in second with a 12.23 average start, according to Racing Insights.
NOT BAD AT ALL
Michael McDowell will start in Row 4 with Alex Bowman after a fast lap of 30.788 seconds. It was his best qualifying result of the season.
Bowman, who was the fastest driver in the first practice session, qualified eighth.
“Track position is going to be important, which is why I’m a little disappointed in where we qualified,” Bowman said. “I think we’ll have a couple of laps to get passing done on fresh tires and then it’s going to be really hard to make it happen.”
Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Hamlin have combined to take the last four races at Chicagoland in Toyotas. Hamlin qualified ninth, Busch was 17th and Truex came in at No. 18.
“We just have to get the balance right for tomorrow and I think we’ll be OK in the long run,” Truex said.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap