Austin Dillon, left, and Paul Menard talk in a garage during practice for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Paul Menard wasn't even supposed to be in the exhibition Sprint Unlimited.

Now he's starting from the pole.

Menard won a blind draw for the pole position Friday and will lead the 25-car field to the green flag in the first Sprint Cup event of 2015. 

Menard got into the 75-lap event after four drivers -- AJ Allmendinger, David Gilliland, Brian Scott and Brian Vickers -- withdrew from the exhibition race. Clint Bowyer, Casey Mears and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. also benefitted from the withdrawals.

Kasey Kahne will start second, followed by Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch.

Defending Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick will start eighth, just ahead of defending race winner Denny Hamlin (ninth) and four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon (11th),

Other notable starting spots include Danica Patrick (15th), Jimmie Johnson (17th), Tony Stewart (22nd) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (24th).

 

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