Updated: Kyle Busch wonders if there’s a conspiracy theory to put 88 and 3 on Daytona 500 front row

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Update: Kyle Busch’s belief in a conspiracy theory to put the 88 of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 3 of Austin Dillon was half right. Dillon earns the pole, with a surprising effort that puts Martin Truex Jr. on the outside pole. Meanwhile, after sitting atop the speed charts for much of the session, Earnhardt fell to just seventh-fastest in his qualifying effort.

Whether you like him or not, Kyle Busch is never afraid to speak his mind — and did he ever during front row qualifying Sunday for next Sunday’s 56th Daytona 500.

When asked by Fox Sports anchor Chris Myers whether he thought Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s early pole-setting speed of 195.211 mph was going to hold up, Kyle Busch was … well, Kyle Busch.

“I don’t know, you know,” Busch said. “People do believe in conspiracy theories and whether the 88 and the 3 (driven by rookie Austin Dillon) are going to sit on the front row together, who’s going to be the pole sitter, we’re not sure. We’ll find out.”

“Oh boy,” Myers said with an uncomfortable laugh. “We haven’t even gone there but we know exactly what he’s talking about, don’t we?”

To which analyst and two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip remarked, “I’ve heard that.”

Later in the broadcast, analyst Jeff Hammond caught up with Dillon and asked “Looking up at that leaderboard, how cool would it be to have that No. 3 alongside Dale Earnhardt Jr. in that No. 88?”

With teammates Ryan Newman still to make his qualifying run and Paul Menard being second to Earnhardt on the speed charts, Dillon replied, “I think it would be really special, but hopefully the RCR cars can take over the front row, for sure. That’d be cool. I’ve got Newman right here with me and Paul’s in second. It would be really special, though. … Our Dow Chevrolet’s fast. Hopefully we can put it where it deserves.”

As it turned out, though, the 88 and 3 will not be on the front row. Greg Biffle spoiled those plans with his qualifying effort, knocking Earnhardt off the pole with a very stout speed of 195.818 mph. Martin Truex Jr. then knocked Biffle off the front row, making it Dillon and Truex at the head of the pack for next Sunday’s Daytona 500.

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UPDATE 2: INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama once again under red-flag race stoppage

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UPDATE No. 2: The INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama was closing in on restarting on Lap 23 or 24 before officials threw the second red flag race stoppage because of lingering puddles on the 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park, particularly on the front stretch. We’ll keep you updated as situations warrant.

UPDATE No. 1: The INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is under a red-flag race stoppage after 19 laps due to rain and puddling on the racing surface at Barber Motorsports Park.

Cleaners and dryers are on the track to try and get some of the water off the racing surface. The low spots on the track, as well as the front stretch, have been particularly troublesome and led to several spinouts and at least two wrecks (Charlie Kimball and outside front pole sitter Will Power).

Power’s day is done after suffering irreparable damage to the left side of his car after hydroplaning on the front straight and running into the inside retaining wall.

ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS:

Although rain has been falling for nearly an hour and the Barber Motorsports Park 2.3-mile permanent road course is drenched, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is underway on NBCSN.

The start of the race was moved up from 3:38 p.m. ET to take the green flag at 3:08 p.m. ET.

Josef Newgarden is the defending winner of this race and also will start from the pole for today’s race.

While the race is scheduled for 90 laps, there’s a possibility that if the weather worsens or if lightning appears, it could potentially be shortened to just two hours.

As can be expected, all cars are on rain tires to maximize grip.

Catch the race live on NBCSN.