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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, February 16, 2013 11:57 pm

Speedy Dillon should vie for Daytona 500 pole

By MARK LONGAP Sports Writer

Austin Dillon was fast, really fast, during the first Daytona 500 practice.

Maybe even fast enough for the pole.

Dillon, who is driving for his grandfather, Richard Childress, posted the second-fastest lap in Saturday's initial session.

He stayed in the garage for the second practice, though, quite possibly because his team had seen enough of the No. 33 Chevrolet and wanted to keep the car out of harm's way.

"Well, first thing, he's got to make the race," Childress said. "They got a little advantage right now. All them guys have been doing is just tweaking, touching, rubbing, doing everything they can to that car, taking a few extra chances with the engine. Let's hope it makes it two laps tomorrow."

Dillon will try to secure a spot in the Daytona 500 by clinching one of the top two spots in pole qualifying Sunday. If he does that, it would take all the pressure off next week's twin qualifying races.

"They know they got to go fast to make the race," Childress said. "That's the first thing you got to do. You got to be in the race to do anything else."

Teammate Kevin Harvick, who won the Sprint Unlimited exhibition race Saturday night, made it clear he believes his teammate has a shot at the pole.

Childress wasn't quite as confident.

"I don't know," the team owner said. "He'll be pretty good. But who knows what will happen?"

Childress does have a pole front-runner, though.

"I think Danica (Patrick) right now has the star power," he said. "She's doing good. They're going to do good. I think she'll be the car to beat for the pole. She'll have a run."