Austin Dillon landed the pole position for Sunday’s Advance Auto Parts Clash with nary a show of speed nor skill. Instead, Saturday’s pole-winning move came courtesy of luck, from a fill-in representative of Richard Childress Racing.
Dillon’s RCR No. 3 Chevrolet will lead the 17-car field to the green flag Sunday (3 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM) in the annual 75-lap exhibition. Lead engineer Seth Chavka, subbing for crew chief Justin Alexander, and a young participant from quarter-midget competition pulled the No. 1 starting position in a blind draw at Saturday evening’s Speedweeks Premiere at Daytona fan festival in the Daytona International Speedway infield.
Chavka indicated that Alexander has been ailing from a case of the flu, and that his status for Sunday’s race was in limbo. No matter who’s atop the pit box for Dillon and the No. 3 bunch, Chavka said starting from the pole was a pleasant perk.
“I think it matters a little bit,” Chavka said. “I mean, if we can stay up front, we’re going to do that all night long. That’s the goal for every week.”
Denny Hamlin will start alongside Dillon on the front row after his crew chief, Mike Wheeler, drew the No. 2 spot. Joey Logano, Erik Jones and Jimmie Johnson will round out the top five starting positions.
Clash participants completed their only practice Saturday morning, and Ryan Blaney — set for his first full season driving the Team Penske No. 12 — led that 80-minute session. Blaney will start 15th Sunday.
The field is primarily made up of last year’s pole winners, which account for 12 of the 17 drivers. The rest of the field includes last year’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff participants (three) and former Daytona 500 pole winners (two).
Full lineup for The Clash:
1-Austin Dillon, No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
2-Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
3-Joey Logano, No. 22 Team Penske Ford
4-Erik Jones, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
5-Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
6-Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota
7-Kasey Kahne, No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet
8-Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
9-Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
10-Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
11-Ryan Newman, No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
12-Chase Elliott, No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
13-Kyle Busch, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
14-Kurt Busch, No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
15-Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Team Penske Ford
16-Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
17-Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Team Penske Ford