NEWTON – Austin Dillon is making front-row starts a habit.
The 23-year-old race car driver tucked another under his signature cream-colored cowboy hat.
Dillon recorded a fast-lap speed of 136.737 miles per hour to capture the pole Saturday for the NASCAR Nationwide Series DuPont Pioneer 250 at Iowa Speedway. It was his third straight pole, making the 0.875-mile oval in 23.037 seconds.
“We just need to finish one of these off,” Dillon said after signing multiple autographs for fans. “We have the speed in the car. We have to make the adjustment throughout the race to keep us out front.”
Dillon earned the pole at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway for the May 25 race, and then last week at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Things didn’t go quite as well after qualifying in those races. Dillon placed 14th at Charlotte, leading only one lap. He was eighth last week at Dover, running out front for 43 laps.
The pole marks his sixth in 56 Nationwide starts, but his first one in five Nationwide races at Iowa Speedway. He has started 11 races in the top-10 this season, starting second at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, where he placed 10th and led five laps.
Iowa Speedway was a site of a NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series win for Dillon. He has accumulated many laps here.
“This is one of my favorite tracks,” said Dillon, a former Trucks Series season points champion. ”We’ve won here before. We should have won last year.
“The toughest thing we have to do is beat the Black No. 3, and that’s us. We don’t want to beat ourselves.”
Sam Hornish Jr., of Penske Racing, will start along side Dillon on the front row. He posted a speed of 135.834 mph, matching Dillon’s 11 top-10 starts this season and four top-10 starts in as many races at Iowa Speedway.
Hornish teammate, Joey Logano, qualified sixth. He will compete Sunday at the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Ryan Blaney will replace Logano, but the car will be moved to the back of the field.
Brian Scott rounded out the top-three. Kyle Larson was the fastest qualifying rookie, finishing 10th in 135.205 mph.
Des Moines native Michael Annett qualified 18th and 20-year-old Cedar Rapids native Joey Gase qualified 32nd, tying his best start of the season.