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Dillon claims pole for Sprint Showdown

<p>Rookie Austin Dillon will start on the pole for Friday night's Sprint Showdown -- the 40-lap preliminary event for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race -- after posting the fastest lap in qualifying at Charlotte Motor Speedway.</p>

Concord, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Rookie Austin Dillon will start on the pole for Friday night's Sprint Showdown -- the 40-lap preliminary event for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race -- after posting the fastest lap in qualifying at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Dillon, who drives the No. 3 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, turned a lap at 194.616 mph to take the top starting position for the showdown. Qualifying consisted of single-car runs. Drivers made two laps around this 1.5-mile racetrack.

In February, Dillon won the pole for the Daytona 500. His best finish in the Sprint Cup Series this season is ninth, which came in the season-opener at Daytona.

A.J. Allmendinger qualified second with a lap at 194.098 mph. Kyle Larson, also a rookie this season, took the third spot, followed by Clint Bowyer and Marcos Ambrose.

Paul Menard, Danica Patrick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Casey Mears and Aric Almirola will start sixth through 10th, respectively.

The Sprint Showdown consists of two 20-lap segments, with an optional pit stop in between segments. There are 23 drivers competing in this event. The top-two finishers in the showdown as well as the winner of the Sprint Fan Vote will advance into Saturday night's all-star race. The fan vote winner will be announced immediately after the showdown. Patrick won the vote last year.

Qualifying for the all-star race will be held on the same day as the event (Saturday at 7:10 p.m. ET). The total elapsed time from three laps and a four- tire pit stop (with no pit-road speed limit) will determine the starting lineup.

For the first time this year, the top-two finishers in the showdown and the fan vote winner will participate in qualifying rather than automatically start from the rear of the field. The all-star race is slated to start at approximately 9:10 p.m.

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