Rookie Chase Elliott won the pole for next Sunday’s Daytona 500, putting the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in the top starting spot in NASCAR’s biggest race for the second year in a row. Jeff Gordon won it last year in the No. 24.
Bill Elliott, Chase’s father and a NASCAR Hall of Fame member, set the three fastest Daytona 500 pole speeds in history and now Chase is a pole winner here, too.
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Elliott, who turned 20 last November, became the youngest pole winner in Daytona 500 history, as he turned a lap of 196.314 miles per hour around the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
“This is a very, very cool way to start the 2016 season with Hendrick Motorsports,” said Elliott.
Second-fastest was two-time Daytona 500 Matt Kenseth, who will start the Daytona 500 the outside of Row 1 in his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. His qualifying speed was 196.036 mph.
“We had a lot of speed in all our Toyotas,” said Kenseth, who qualified on the front row for the Daytona 500 for the first time. “Really looking forward to Sunday.”
A total of 44 cars are attempting to qualify for the 40-car field in the Daytona 500.
Sunday’s qualifying session locked in only the front row for next Sunday’s big race. Starting positions 3-40 will be determined in Thursday night’s Can-Am Duel qualifying races at Daytona.
In the 40-car field, the 36 teams with NASCAR Charters are all guaranteed starting spots. There are eight non-charter teams — NASCAR calls them “Open” teams — in the 500. Four of the eight will qualify for the 500 and four won’t.
Among the Open drivers, Ryan Blaney and Matt DiBenedetto were fastest in qualifying on Sunday, which guarantees them starting spots in the Daytona 500.
The highest finishing Open team in each Can-Am Duel race will also make the 500 field.
In each of the Can-Am Duels, the fields will consist of 18 Charter teams and four Open teams.