Austin Dillon wins pole for Daytona 500 in No. 3 car
Austin Dillon won the pole on Sunday for next weekend’s Daytona 500 in the No. 3 Chevrolet, a number team owner Richard Childress had refused to field since Dale Earnhardt’s fatal accident in that number car on the last lap of the 2001 race, according to an Associated Press report.
Earnhardt was a seven-time series champion who won 67 career races, including the 1998 Daytona 500, driving the No. 3 Chevy.
Dillon is the 23-year-old grandson of Childress who won the Nationwide series last year. He has 13 Sprint Cup starts and will be racing in NASCAR’s highest series full-time this year. He has never led a lap or had a top-10 finish in a Sprint Cup race.
Dillon’s 196.019 mph lap won the pole. He is the second straight rookie to win the pole after Danica Patrick also became the first woman to do so last year.
“I feel like our engines have been really good since we’ve been here. … I just had to get my shifts. And I knew that hopefully I could hold the wheel straight for two laps,” Dillon told Fox Sports after his lap. “Everybody wants to see this number perform well, and that’s what my goals are.”
Added Childress: “I couldn’t be more proud of Austin. We wanted to come down here and put on a good show with the 3.”