JOLIET, Ill. – Austin Dillon has quickly become one of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ most-prolific qualifying masters this season, proving his skills again on Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway.
Dillon sped to his third pole of the year with a blistering lap of 30.636 seconds (176.263 mph) in the No. 3 Dow Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, putting himself in prime position to chase a much-needed win on Sunday.
The 29-year-old is outside the top 20 in points and likely in a must-win scenario in order to make the playoffs, making Saturday’s performance a strong step in the right direction to do just that.
“I felt like if we kept working on this car, that a pole was a possibility,” noted Dillon after his sixth-career Cup Series pole. “We had a good meeting between us and the (No.) 8 hauler between first and second practices, and we had a good idea of what changes we wanted to make going into this afternoon. We made them, and here we are.
“I’m really proud of these guys. This is our third pole this year, and now we just need to translate that into race pace,” Dillon added. “It would be huge to get a win with where we are in points. We’ve had four bad weeks, of just getting wrecked and other random stuff happening. We need a good run and this is a great way to start off that quest.”
Kevin Harvick, a two-time Chicagoland winner, will join Dillon on the front row after a lap of 30.666 seconds (176.091 mph) in his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang.
After five wins at this point a year ago, Harvick is still winless through 16 races this season.
Dillon’s Richard Childress Racing teammate Daniel Hemric will start third, alongside Hendrick Motorsports’ Jimmie Johnson, with Kurt Busch making it four Chevrolet drivers in the top five.
Clint Bowyer qualified sixth, followed by Michael McDowell, who gave Front Row Motorsports a banner effort with the seventh-fastest lap on Saturday.
Alex Bowman, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney completed the top 10.
White Hamlin was the best among the Toyota drivers in qualifying, his three Joe Gibbs Racing teammates – Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Erik Jones – will start 17th, 18th and 21st, respectively.
To view the full starting grid, advance to the next page.