On Sunday at Daytona International Speedway, a hot-shoe rookie named Chase Elliott brought back memories of his legendary father Bill’s DAYTONA 500 dominance, winning the pole in DAYTONA 500 Qualifying Presented By Kroger.
Thirty years ago, Bill Elliott was in the middle of a streak of winning three consecutive DAYTONA 500 poles. Sunday, his son began his first season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with a fast lap of 196.314 mph on the 2.5-mile DIS tri-oval, becoming the race’s youngest pole winner, at 20 years, two months and 17 days.
Sunday’s qualifying had two rounds. After Round 1 – which was led by Dale Earnhardt Jr, (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet), the fastest 12 cars advanced to Round 2. Elliott was fourth-fastest in the first session.
Elliott also evoked more recent memories. His No, 24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet also sat on the pole last year albeit with different sponsorship and a different driver – another legend, the now-retired Jeff Gordon.
“This is a very, very cool day,” said Elliott, the 2014 champion of the NASCAR XFINITY Series. “I think the big thing is just the team. Daytona 500 qualifying is about the team guys and the effort they put into these cars. The DAYTONA 500 is about the team. This is a great way to start the season.
“This is a big day, but this is a long week. I’m just very honored and blessed to be with the group of guys that we have. I think it’s a special group. This entire team did such a good job on this car during this off-season. It’s awfully fast.”
DAYTONA 500 Qualifying Presented By Kroger “locked in” the top two qualifying positions for the race. Joining Elliott on the front row will be two-time DAYTONA 500 champion Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota), who posted a speed of 196.036.
Elliott and Kenseth will start on the respective poles Thursday night in the Can-Am Duel – two 150-mile qualifying races that establish positions 3-40 on the DAYTONA 500 starting grid. The Can-Am Duel grids are based on Sunday’s qualifying results.
Two drivers from a group of eight who are not guaranteed spots in the DAYTONA 500 field – 36 drivers are guaranteed spots – clinched spots in the race, based on their speeds Sunday: Ryan Blaney of the famed Wood Brothers organization and Matt DiBenedetto from BK Racing.
Tickets for all Speedweeks 2016 events – including the 58th annual DAYTONA 500 on Feb. 21, the season-opening race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – can be purchased on-line at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube for the latest speedway news throughout the season.