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Chase Elliott Wins Pole For 2016 Daytona 500

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, February 14 2016
Chase Elliott poses with his first piece of Daytona hardware and his father and mother. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

Chase Elliott poses with his first piece of Daytona hardware and his father and mother. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Chase Elliott will make his Sprint Cup race debut as driver of the iconic No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet from the pole position  next weekend’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

Elliott, a rookie taking over the seat of retired four-time Cup champions Jeff Gordon, won the pole
sprint-logo-08with a lap of 196.314 mph.

“This is a very, very cool day,” Elliott said. “I don’t know that this opportunity has sunk in yet, much less sitting on the pole for the Daytona 500. So this is very cool. I think the big thing is just the team and the Daytona 500 qualifying is about the team guys and the effort they put into these cars and it’s nothing special I did, it’s really what kind of work they did this off-season to make it happen.  Jeff (Gordon) knows all about that and I just wanted to give a big thanks to NAPA Auto Parts and all of our partners at HMS on this No. 24 car. This is very special and a great way to start the season.”

The son of former Cup champion Bill Elliott, 20-year-old Chase became the youngest driver to win the pole for NASCAR’s biggest event.

Also earning securing a spot in next Sunday’s 500, was Matt Kenneth of Joe Gibbs Racing, who will
start alongside young Elliott on the front row. Kenneth’s fast lap was at 196.036 mph.

“I mean obviously a team effort – not a driver thing – although it is the first time I’ve been nervous qualifying at Daytona,” Kenneth said. “I’m like, ‘Don’t mess up that lap. You want to be on the front row,’ so just big thanks to everybody at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing). The aero department is obviously a huge part of this. Everybody at Toyota and TRD is making these Camrys so fast and Dollar General and DeWalt – we have a great race team. Yesterday, didn’t turn out how we wanted it to, but we had a lot of speed in all our Toyotas, so really looking forward to Sunday.”

 The rest of the starting grid will be set on Thursday in the twin qualifying races.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. of Hendrick was third fastest on a qualifying day where only the fastest two drivers secured starting spots.

Defending Cup champion Kyle Busch was fourth fastest in  Gibbs Toyota while Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
was a surprising fifth in a Roush Fenway Ford.

“I knew we would have a decent shot today,” Stenhouse said, “but there are still some things the guys are writing notes down for things to work on for when we go to Talladega. Hopefully this is a sign to come for everything this year. You always want to start off with a fast race car. Everyone at Roush Yates engine shop, Doug Yates and everyone did a great job with our horsepower and everyone at the Roush body shop that gave us a good body on this thing. I am really proud of their effort.”

The even-numbered qualifiers from today will compete in Duel 2, while the odd-numbered qualifers will race in Duel 1.

Because of NASCAR’s new charter system, 30 drivers are locked into the starting grid. Not one of those before Sunday was Ryan Blaney and his Wood Brothers Racing Ford, which was not granted a charter by NASCAR despite the team’s rich history.

Blaney was seventh fastest on Sunday and that put him into the field.

“It is nice to be locked into the race,” he said. “The biggest relief for us is to know you are locked in and are good to be able to race in the 500. That kind of lets us go race on Thursday a little bit more than we would have instead of playing it conservative if we weren’t locked in. It is nice to have such a fast car and be locked into the race. It is a load off our shoulders for sure. I think anytime you can make it to the last round you feel good about the speed of your race car. I think our speed is pretty good. We definitely aren’t the fastest but we have good speed and I think we will dial it in and be good for the 500.”

Martin Truex Jr., who raced into the championship round of four in last year’s Chase, suffered the biggest bummer on Sunday.

NASCAR inspectors noticed that a roof flap on the No. 78 Toyota was not up to spec. His Furniture Row Racing team was put on the five-minute clock to fix the problem. It could not beat the clock and the car was sent back to the garages without being allowed a qualifying run.

As a consequence, Truex will start the second Can-Am Duel qualifying race on Thursday night from the back of the field.

“They didn’t like the way it was landing when it went down,” crew chief Cole Pearn said of the roof flap. “I don’t know – it was that way the whole way down pit road. I’m not sure what the problem was. It could have been easily fixed, but either way they decided to put it on the five-minute clock when we were down there at the end, and I don’t know why we had to run it back here, because there was no way we were going to get back here and get back out in time.

“But, whatever, we will roll on and see what they decide to do. Too bad. I thought we had a really good car and good speed in it, so it would’ve been nice to see what we could’ve run at least. But either way, we’ll move on and hopefully have a good rest of Speedweeks.”

NASCAR will discuss the issue at its weekly competition meeting on Tuesday and will determine if further action is warranted.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying – Daytona 500

Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Beach, Florida

Sunday, February 14, 2016

  1. (24)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 196.314 mph.
  2. (20)  Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 196.036 mph.
  3. (88)  Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 195.682 mph.
  4. (18)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 195.207 mph.
  5. (17)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 195.118 mph.
  6. (48)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 194.839 mph.
  7. (21)  Ryan Blaney #, Ford, 194.746 mph.
  8. (3)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 194.675 mph.
  9. (19)  Carl Edwards, Toyota, 194.662 mph.
  10. (11)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 194.523 mph.
  11. (41)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 194.510 mph.
  12. (22)  Joey Logano, Ford, 194.460 mph.
  13. (13)  Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 194.250 mph.
  14. (5)  Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 194.104 mph.
  15. (31)  Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 194.099 mph.
  16. (27)  Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 193.936 mph.
  17. (95)  Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 193.936 mph.
  18. (2)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 193.878 mph.
  19. (43)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 193.753 mph.
  20. (16)  Greg Biffle, Ford, 193.665 mph.
  21. (1)  Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 193.399 mph.
  22. (44)  Brian Scott #, Ford, 193.332 mph.
  23. (42)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 192.938 mph.
  24. (93)  Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 192.686 mph.
  25. (59)  Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 192.604 mph.
  26. (7)  Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 192.542 mph.
  27. (83)  Michael Waltrip, Toyota, 192.406 mph.
  28. (34)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 192.365 mph.
  29. (10)  Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 192.291 mph.
  30. (32)  Bobby Labonte, Ford, 191.808 mph.
  31. (47)  AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 191.583 mph.
  32. (6)  Trevor Bayne, Ford, 191.436 mph.
  33. (46)  Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 191.302 mph.
  34. (15)  Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 191.249 mph.
  35. (38)  Landon Cassill, Ford, 191.192 mph.
  36. (26)  Robert Richardson Jr., Toyota, 190.496 mph.
  37. (98)  Cole Whitt, Toyota, 190.375 mph.
  38. (35)  David Gilliland, Ford, 189.350 mph.
  39. (23)  David Ragan, Toyota, 189.068 mph.
  40. (30)  Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 187.282 mph.
  41. (40)  Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 181.163 mph.
  42. (78)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 0.000 mph.
  43. (4)  Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
  44. (14)  Brian Vickers, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, February 14 2016
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