Rookie Chase Elliott will start the biggest race of his young career from the pole. Elliott won the Daytona 500 pole Sunday topping the final of two rounds of qualifying with a speed of 196.314.
Elliott, in his first full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series in replacement legendary Jeff Gordon is the youngest pole winner in Daytona 500 history at 20 years, two months and 17 days. Elliott and his father Bill become the fourth father-son pair to win Daytona 500 poles.
“I don’t know that this opportunity has sunk in yet, much less sitting on the pole for the Daytona 500,” Elliott said. “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.”
Matt Kenseth was a close second with a speed of 196.036. Under the unique qualifying structure for the Daytona 500, only Elliott and Kenseth are guaranteed starting spots. The rest of the field will be set according to their finish in the duel qualifying races on Thursday and Sunday’s qualifying session. With 44 entries for 40 spots, and 36 of those spots guaranteed to Charter teams, only four spots will be up for grabs for next Sunday’s Daytona 500. Another rookie Ryan Blaney driving for the Wood Brothers, will have to race his way into the 500 since that team has no Charter. He qualified 7th on Sunday and most likely secured himself a spot for the 500.
Elliott and Kenseth were among 12 drivers who advanced to the second of two rounds of qualifying. Chief those not advancing to the final round were Kevin Harvick, and Brad Keselowski.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was among those who advanced, he put down a lap good enough for third. He was followed by Kyle Busch and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
One team who didn’t take a lap was the Furniture Row No. 78 and driver Martin Truex Jr. As the car waited for its turn on track, NASCAR inspectors ordered the roof flap fixed and put the team on the five minute clock, shortly after the car was taken back to an inspection area and impounded.
“I guess an issue with the right side roof flap going down as far as it needs to,” crew chief Cole Pearn said. “But I’m not really sure how it ended up that way or what changed us down pit road but what either way we ran it back here for whatever reason. We’ll see what they do and hopefully have a good rest of Speedweeks.”
NASCAR later said the roof flap was “not in compliance” and that the No 78 would start at the rear of its duel race on Thursday and had its qualifying attempt disallowed. In addition NASCAR said the track bars on the No. 14 car and the No. 4 car both belonging to Stewart-Haas Racing were also found to not be in compliance. Both of the times for those cars were also disallowed. NASCAR indicated that further penalties for all infractions could be forthcoming.
The full qualifying results from Sunday can be found here. The lineups for the first Duel Qualifying race can be found here, the lineup for the second can be found here.
The Can-Am Duels take place Thursday, beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET. The second duel race will follow at 9:00 p.m. ET. Both Can-Am Duels are 60 laps (150 miles).