Truex takes 17th career pole at Auto Club Speedway
By Dominic Aragon
March 16, 2018
FONTANA, Calif.—For the second straight week, Martin Truex Jr. will lead the field to the green flag.
Truex posted the fastest lap time in the third round of qualifying Friday at Auto Club Speedway with a speed of 186.567 mph (38.592 seconds) to earn the pole position for the Auto Club 400 Sunday. It was his 17th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole and second of the season.
“I felt good in practice about our chances,” Truex said about winning the pole. “We opted to stay on one set of tires the whole practice and run our fastest lap on scuffs.
“That put us seventh overall and some guys put on tires late in practice and were a little bit quicker than that. I felt that was a big advantage for us. We ran the fastest lap of anyone on scuff tires and felt like would bode well for us in qualifying.”
Kyle Busch will start on the outside front row. Defending race winner Kyle Larson will start third.
Erik Jones posted the fourth-highest time and Austin Dillon will round out the top five.
Kevin Harvick led the first two rounds but ultimately qualified 10th place.
“There was really no difference, it’s just the car at the three-quarter mark of the corner was tighter than what we wanted and every round it kept getting a little worse,” Harvick said.
“And I pushed up high enough there to where I got hung up on that seam with the left side tires through one and two and just lost a bunch of time as it got the left-rear on it and got sideways.”
Thirteen drivers were unable to post a lap in the first round of qualifying session after their cars failed the inspection process. Included in the group were the four Hendrick Motorsports cars.
DRIVERS WHO FAILED TO POST A LAP
No. 9 Chase Elliott
No. 10 Aric Almirola
No. 11 Denny Hamlin
No. 14 Clint Bowyer
No. 15 Ross Chastain
No. 19 Daniel Suarez
No. 24 William Byron
No. 47 A.J. Allmendinger
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson
No. 51 Timmy Hill
No. 72 Cole Whitt
No. 88 Alex Bowman
No. 95 Kasey Kahne
The Auto Club 400 will run Sunday on FOX at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
Joshua A. Hill/TRE