Elliott sets blistering pace for third Daytona pole

Image by Harrelson/LAT

Elliott sets blistering pace for third Daytona pole

NASCAR

Elliott sets blistering pace for third Daytona pole

Chase Elliott on the pole at Daytona International Speedway is becoming a familiar sight as the Hendrick Motorsports driver grabbed his third pole at the famed speedway in six qualifying efforts.

Elliott swept both rounds of qualifying Friday evening, grabbing the pole for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 with a lap of 194.045mph. The pole is the fourth of Elliott’s career. All his poles have come on the restrictor-plate tracks of Daytona (three) and Talladega.

Starting lineup

Saturday night will be the first time Elliott has started from the top spot this season.

“No, I didn’t know it was that fast. Our Hooters Chevy has been nice all weekend,” said Elliott. “We made a couple of changes actually at the end of that last practice before the rain and made it go a little faster. I hope that translates to a good driving car tomorrow night.

“Obviously, a lot of speed in our Chevrolets. I’ve said this before, but we have put a lot of effort into our speedway program at Hendrick Motorsports. The engine shop, chassis shop, body shop, we take a lot of pride in coming to these races. They pay the same amount of points as the rest of them, so it matters, and our team treats it that way and their hard work pays off.”

Elliott’s Hendrick teammate Alex Bowman qualified second, continuing the HMS restrictor-plate qualifying dominance – they’ve now won five of the last six Daytona poles, and seven of the previous 11 poles at a plate race. Bowman, the Daytona 500 pole-sitter, clocked in at 193.046mph.

Completing the top five were Brad Keselowski (192.802mph), Jimmie Johnson (192.361mph) and Kevin Harvick (192.164mph).

Defending race winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will start sixth after a lap of 192.164mph. Ryan Newman (191.812mph), Michael McDowell (191.669mph), Clint Bowyer (191.445mph) and Austin Dillon (191.298 mph) completed the top 10.

For McDowell, qualifying eighth marks just the third time in his career he will start in the top 10. It is also McDowell’s best effort this season since joining Front Row Motorsports. His previous best qualifying effort at Daytona was an 11th in 2012.

Other notables: Joey Logano 11th; Martin Truex Jr. 13th; Kyle Busch 15th; Denny Hamlin 17th; William Byron 18th; Trevor Bayne 20th; Kurt Busch 23rd; Aric Almirola 26th.

In addition to McDowell, one of the other impressive qualifying efforts came from Brendan Gaughan, who put the No. 62 Beard Motorsports Chevrolet in the 16th position for his third start of the season as he and Beard team up for each of the restrictor-plate races.

NEXT UP: Coke Zero Sugar 400 at 7 p.m. ET Saturday.

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