It's been a long time since the No. 3 car graced the Daytona 500 stage. This time, it will be at the front of the pack.
Austin Dillon of Richard Childress Racing caused a stir late last year after it was revealed that he would be bringing the No. 3 car back to the NASCAR Sprint Cup stage. Now the 23-year-old rookie has the Daytona 500 pole award in his first race in the famed black ride.
NASCAR on Fox provided a look at Dillon crossing the finish line after taking the pole:
Dillon knows the importance of the car and told Krista Voda of Fox that it meant a lot for fans of Dale Earnhardt, according to NASCAR on Fox:
While Dillon was the big story on Sunday, teammate Martin Truex Jr. clinched not only a spot in the field but also a place right alongside Dillon on the front row as the No. 2 qualifier.
With both earning their right to race in the Daytona 500, here is a look at the full table of results and a breakdown of what Sunday's final leaderboard means for the race.
|1)||3||Austin Dillon||DOW Chevrolet||45.914||196.019|
|2)||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Furniture Row Chevrolet||45.953||195.852|
|3)||16||Greg Biffle||3M Ford||45.961||195.818|
|4)||99||Carl Edwards||Fastenal Ford||45.986||195.712|
|5)||31||Ryan Newman||Caterpillar Chevrolet||45.987||195.707|
|6)||2||Brad Keselowski||Miller Lite Ford||46.084||195.296|
|7)||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||National Guard Chevrolet||46.104||195.211|
|8)||24||Jeff Gordon||Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet||46.144||195.042|
|9)||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Nationwide Insurance Ford||46.153||195.004|
|10)||27||Paul Menard||Peak/Menards Chevrolet||46.173||194.919|
|11)||9||Marcos Ambrose||Stanley Ford||46.179||194.894|
|12)||33||Brian Scott||Whitetail Chevrolet||46.207||194.776|
|13)||43||Aric Almirola||Smithfield Ford||46.235||194.658|
|14)||48||Jimmie Johnson||Lowe's Chevrolet||46.24||194.637|
|15)||22||Joey Logano||Shell Pennzoil Ford||46.253||194.582|
|16)||13||Casey Mears||GEICO Chevrolet||46.253||194.582|
|17)||20||Matt Kenseth||Dollar General Toyota||46.255||194.574|
|18)||7||Michael Annett||Pilot/Flying J Travel Centers Chevrolet||46.255||194.574|
|19)||5||Kasey Kahne||Farmers Insurance Chevrolet||46.262||194.544|
|20)||15||Clint Bowyer||5-hour Energy Toyota||46.267||194.523|
|21)||18||Kyle Busch||M&M's Toyota||46.272||194.502|
|22)||11||Denny Hamlin||FedEx Express Toyota||46.278||194.477|
|23)||4||Kevin Harvick||Budweiser Chevrolet||46.291||194.422|
|24)||42||Kyle Larson||Target Chevrolet||46.294||194.41|
|25)||10||Danica Patrick||GoDaddy Chevrolet||46.301||194.38|
|26)||21||Trevor Bayne||Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford||46.312||194.334|
|27)||47||AJ Allmendinger||Kroger/USO Chevrolet||46.366||194.108|
|28)||41||Kurt Busch||Haas Automation Chevrolet||46.373||194.078|
|29)||36||Reed Sorenson||Golden Corral Chevrolet||46.376||194.066|
|30)||51||Justin Allgaier||Brandt Professional Agriculture Chevrolet||46.436||193.815|
|31)||38||David Gilliland||Love's Travel Stops Ford||46.455||193.736|
|32)||40||Landon Cassill||Hillman Racing Chevrolet||46.456||193.732|
|33)||30||Parker Kligerman||Swan Energy Toyota||46.489||193.594|
|34)||66||Michael Waltrip||BlueDEF/AAA Toyota||46.529||193.428|
|35)||14||Tony Stewart||Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet||46.544||193.365|
|36)||35||Eric McClure||Hefty Ultimate/Reynolds Wrap Ford||46.655||192.905|
|37)||55||Brian Vickers||Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota||46.681||192.798|
|38)||1||Jamie McMurray||McDonald's Chevrolet||46.706||192.695|
|39)||26||Cole Whitt||Speed Stick Gear Toyota||46.744||192.538|
|40)||34||David Ragan||CSX - Play It Safe Ford||46.795||192.328|
|41)||95||Michael McDowell||K-Love Ford||46.804||192.291|
|42)||32||Terry Labonte||C&J Energy Services Ford||46.842||192.135|
|43)||98||Josh Wise||Curb Records Ford||46.86||192.061|
|44)||52||Bobby Labonte||Phoenix Construction Chevrolet||46.999||191.493|
|45)||87||Joe Nemechek||300 Rise of an Empire Toyota||47.249||190.48|
|46)||83||Ryan Truex||Borla Exhaust Toyota||47.282||190.347|
|47)||23||Alex Bowman||Dr.Pepper Toyota||47.447||189.685|
|48)||93||Morgan Shepherd||SupportMilitary.org Toyota||47.483||189.542|
|49)||77||Dave Blaney||Plinker Arms Ford||N/A||N/A|
Breakdown of Daytona 500 Qualifying
It was believed for a long time that after Dale Earnhardt passed away on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, the No. 3 car would never appear in another NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
While Dillon, the grandson of car owner Richard Childress, may be just a rookie, he is already proving why he was given the honor of driving the famous car.
NASCAR fan and former Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones congratulated the young driver on Twitter:
Congrats to @austindillon3 on repping "the 3" and winning the pole for the Daytona 500!— Chipper Jones (@RealCJ10) February 16, 2014
A rookie winning the pole certainly isn't a normal occurrence, but young drivers have had a lot of success at the race in recent memory. Danica Patrick won the pole last season, and Trevor Bayne won his first Sprint Cup race in the 2011 Daytona 500.
Dillon's success on the track was due in large part, he said, to chief engine builder Danny Lawrence, who was celebrating a birthday on Sunday.
The 23-year-old spoke about Lawrence and the engine he was given during qualifying, according to Reid Spencer of NASCAR.com:
We got him a 1-2 start at Daytona, so this is pretty awesome. You just try and stay focused, because everyone wants to see this number perform well. That's what my goals are -- to stay focused.
His grandfather also added his own thoughts, according to Reid, saying, "We wanted to put on a good show with the 3, and I couldn't be prouder of everybody. (The pressure) is always on when you've got grandsons racing."
Another one of those famed Childress engines also helped Truex Jr. qualify for the field with the second-fastest time around the track.
Though he didn't claim the top spot in the Great American Race, Truex Jr. says he's happy with the finish and having a guaranteed spot, according to NASCAR on Fox:
As many fans of NASCAR already knew coming in, the Daytona 500 qualifying event only guarantees two spots in the field for those involved. For every other driver involved, claiming one of the top-15 spots in the Budweiser Duels will solidify a place in the field for the 500.
Tom Jensen of Fox Sports gave fans a look at the two fields for the Duels following qualifying:
Both fields are particularly interesting thanks to the depth in NASCAR, making both races intriguing for fans of some of the most popular drivers.
As for the second race, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski and last year's winner Jimmie Johnson will start in the top 10 looking to earn placement in the field.
Over the past five seasons, Busch has won one of the Duels twice, including last season when he and Harvick took the wins. With both having success in recent memory, fans can expect a good showing from them.
Does Austin Dillon have a shot at winning the Daytona 500?
But with the Childress engines being the story thus far, it would be ironic to see Harvick win another Duel in his first try with Stewart Haas Racing.
Gordon has the most wins in the Duels among current drivers and could once again find himself in Victory Lane at Daytona on Thursday night. Outside of Gordon, Stewart and Earnhardt Jr. sit at second in Duel wins with three, making them other favorites to claim the win in one of the two races.
With Dillon and Truex Jr. finishing at the top of the field, every other driver qualifying will get a second chance to make the race during the Budweiser Duels on Thursday night.
While fans might not be sold on the idea of the No. 3 car on the track in Sprint Cup, it returns to its rightful place at the top of the field.
Now it's up to Dillon to keep it there.
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