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MENCS: Martin Truex Jr. Earns Auto Club Speedway Pole

Friday, Mar 16 1602

Martin Truex Jr. will start on the pole at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday in his No. 78 Toyota with Furniture Row Racing. Truex, earning his second pole of the season, posted a 38.592, 186.567 mph. in the final round to earn the top spot. The New Jersey native scored his 17th career Busch Pole Award on Friday.

In 17 career premier series starts at Auto Club Speedway, Truex captured one top five and five top 10 finishes at the two-mile oval. The reigning series champion goes into the race with an average finish of 19.2.

Truex’s only top five finish at the track came last season with a fourth-place finish.

Kyle Busch sat 0.027 seconds behind Truex to earn the runner-up spot. Busch, driving the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, posted a 38.619, 186.437 mph. in the last round.

Kyle Larson will round out the top three starters on Sunday. Larson posted a 38.683, 186.128 mph. to earn the spot. The California native scored the pole one year ago and ended the Sunday afternoon drive in victory lane.

Erik Jones and Austin Dillon will round out the top five starters.

Kevin Harvick paced rounds one and two in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. However, in the final round, Harvick sat 10th on the leaderboard by posting a 39.038, 184.436 mph. The driver from Bakersfield enters Fontana looking to score his fourth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win in a row.

“We were just tight as we went through every round. We had the same thing in practice where the second round was just so much tighter than the first round,” said Harvick after qualifying. “We tried to adjust on it and we made it better entering the corner and through the middle of the corner, but as we got to the exit, right at that three-quarter mark, I just kept getting tighter and tighter, and then I got up the race track and got hung on the seam and got loose and kind of screwed it up.”

In 24 previous starts at Auto Club Speedway, Harvick holds six top five and 11 top 10 finishes including a win in 2011. The premier series veteran has an average finish of 15.0.

A total of 13 drivers did not post times in round one as they had issues going through inspection. The drivers that did not participate in round one included Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Alex Bowman, William Byron, Daniel Suarez, Chase Elliott, AJ Allmendinger, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Timmy Hill, Ross Chastain and Cole Whitt.

Four teams elected to not post times in round two to save tires. Those included David Ragan, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Michael McDowell and Reed Sorenson.

The Auto Club 400 entry list featured 37 drivers. That meant there were no DNQs.

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Brett Winningham

Brett has been following the sport of NASCAR since the beginning of the 2006 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Since Brett was 13, he has had a passion of chasing a job in sports that not many get the opportunity of doing. He has been in the NASCAR media since the middle of the 2010 season. Since then, he has been a part of many racing podcast shows to improve his talents. You can find him on twitter @NASCAR_Brett.

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