Just hours after finishing 7th in the Advance Auto Parts Clash, Chase Elliott has won his second consecutive Daytona 500 pole. It is his third Cup pole and the 211th total pole for Hendrick Motorsports.
Elliott dominated the two rounds of qualifying on Sunday alongside HMS teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. He recorded a lap speed of 192.308 miles per hour (mph) in the first round to propel him to the top of the charts over Ty Dillon, followed by Earnhardt setting a speed of 192.267 mph, a 0.041 difference. In the 12-driver second round, Earnhardt led the field with a speed of 192.864 mph until Elliott surpassed him with 192.872.
“I didn’t think my lap was that good,” Elliott stated after the first round. “It surprised me. I didn’t expect to go fast, so that’s a good thing.”
The pole marks Elliott’s third of his Cup Series career and the third straight Daytona 500 pole for crew chief Alan Gustafson, whose driver Jeff Gordon won it in 2015 followed by Elliott in 2016 and 2017. With his second consecutive pole in the race, Elliott becomes the first driver to record consecutive 500 poles since Ken Schrader’s three straight from 1988–1990; prior to Schrader, his father Bill Elliott also accomplished the feat with three-in-a-row from 1985–1987. It is also Hendrick Motorsports’ tenth pole in the Daytona 500.
Qualifying began with Jeffrey Earnhardt, driving the #33 for Circle Sport – The Motorsports Group, being the first car on track. His lap speed of 184.767 mph placed him in 41st of 42 cars, but his team possesses a charter that would guarantee him a spot in the Daytona 500. Of the six open teams that needed to qualify on speed, the #75 Beard Motorsports car of Brendan Gaughan and the #7 Tommy Baldwin Racing vehicle of Elliott Sadler were able to lock themselves in with speeds of 189.294 and 188.561, respectively. With their qualifying efforts, 2017 will mark Gaughan’s first Daytona 500 since 2004 and Sadler’s first since 2012.
In addition to Elliott and Earnhardt, the twelve drivers who advanced to the final round included Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick and Ty Dillon. Dillon was the lone rookie to advance; Daniel Suárez and Erik Jones qualified 15th and 20th, while Corey LaJoie qualified 40th. Three of the four Hendrick cars advanced to the second round; Jimmie Johnson, who wrecked out of the Clash earlier in the day, fell short with a 14th-place run (191.898 mph). Clash winner Joey Logano qualified 17th with a speed of 191.779 mph.
Unlike other NASCAR races, the Daytona 500 starting grid is not determined by just the qualifying system. Besides the front row, the remaining 38 spots are based on the results of the Can-An Duels. Depending on how one finishes in their assigned Duel, they can start the Daytona 500 from a different starting spot than they had qualified on Sunday. The Duels will be held on Thursday, February 23.
|POS.||CAR #||DRIVER||MANUFACTURER||BEST SPEED (MPH)||BEST TIME||GAP|
|2||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||192.864||46.665||–0.002|
|5||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||192.308||46.8||–0.137|
|13||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||192.004||46.874||–0.211|
|28||47||A. J. Allmendinger||Chevrolet||190.283||48.298||–0.635|
|38||96||D. J. Kennington||Toyota||186.819||48.175||–1.512|
Featured image courtesy of Motor Racing Network