Daytona 500 2014 qualifying results: Austin Dillon puts iconic No. 3 on Daytona pole

Jonathan Ferrey

The No. 3 returned to Daytona in grand style, as Austin Dillon captured the pole in Daytona 500 qualifying Sunday.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- A rookie with an iconic number will lead the field to the green flag in the 56th running of the Daytona 500.

Austin Dillon, with a speed of 196.019 mph, went out late in qualifying then withstood a barrage of challenges to capture the pole for NASCAR's biggest race Sunday at Daytona International Speedway.

"The 3 is special to all of us -- the family, the Earnhardt family, to every one of us. But I think it’s special because Austin, our family, is in the car." -Richard Childress

The grandson of Richard Childress is in his first full Sprint Cup season. His ascension has seen the return of the No. 3, which had been dormant since Dale Earnhardt died on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. And seeing the No. 3 back in NASCAR's top division after a 13-year absence has unleashed a range of emotions. There are many enthusiastic about the return of the number, while others have questioned the decision.

"You've got to have those blinders because you want to stay focused and run well because that's what it's going to take -- you want to perform with the No. 3," Dillon said. "Everybody wants to see it perform, and that's why my grandfather is always concerned ... I just have to stay grounded and have fun."

Through it all Dillon, 23, and his grandfather have been steadfast in their respect for Earnhardt's legacy, while also staking their own claim to the number. Childress used No. 3 as a Cup owner-driver before relinquishing the seat when in 1981 he hired Earnhardt. Dillon used the No. 3 in championship-winning seasons in the Nationwide and Truck Series.

Earnhardt won 67 races, including the 1998 Daytona 500, and six of his seven championships driving for Childress.

"The 3 is special to all of us -- the family, the Earnhardt family, to every one of us," Childress said. "But I think it's special because Austin, our family, is in the car. The emotion will fly if the 3 rolls in (Victory Lane) on Sunday. I won't hold it back, I promise."

Dillon is the fourth rookie to capture the Daytona 500 pole, joining Loy Allen Jr., Mike Skinner and Jimmie Johnson. Starting alongside Dillon on the front row is Martin Truex Jr., whose Furniture Row Racing team shares a technical alliance and receives engines from Dillon's Richard Childress Racing team.

That RCR and its partner teams dominated qualifying was no surprise. In both rounds of Saturday practice, RCR cars topped the speed charts, holding five of the top six spots overall in the morning session.

Dillon and Truex are guaranteed their positions in the Daytona 500, while the balance of the starting lineup will be determined in Thursday's Budweiser Duel qualifying races.

Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman completed the top five qualifiers. Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were sixth and seventh, respectively. After being the first driver to post a time, Earnhardt Jr. spent a majority of the afternoon on the provisional pole before Biffle unseated him.

Danica Patrick, last year's Daytona 500 pole-sitter and the first woman to win a Cup pole, ranked 25th Sunday.

"This car is better than our car last year," Patrick said. "It's a bummer we weren't faster."

Daytona 500 qualifying results

Position Car No. Driver Team Time Speed
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 No time

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