DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – For the third time in the last four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at the Daytona International Speedway, Chase Elliott and whomever is driving the No. 88 Chevrolet with Hendrick Motorsports will share the front row.
For the 2017 season, Chase Elliott earned the pole for the Daytona 500 and he was joined alongside by Dale Earnhardt Jr. For the July race, Earnhardt returned the favor and knocked Elliott of the pole.
For this year’s Daytona 500, Alex Bowman who was replacing Earnhardt in that “88” ride earned the pole for this past February’s race. Then on Friday, Elliott and Bowman earned a share of the front row for Saturday night’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 (7 p.m. ET/NBC/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Even Jimmie Johnson is up front as he will start his No. 48 Chevrolet fourth under the lights in Daytona. Back in February, Johnson was third quickest then.
But, the problem lies, can the HMS bunch remain up front?
Since 2013, Hendrick Motorsports has nine overall victories at Daytona. We’re including the Clash and Duels in this list too though. They’ve won five Duels, two Daytona 500’s but just two Coke Zero Sugar 400’s. In fact, since 2005, those are the only two times that visited victory lane during the annual summer classic. Jimmie Johnson did so in 2013 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2015.
Back in February, Elliott and Johnson crashed out. Byron was involved in multiple accidents and even Bowman caught some damage in one of the melees. Hendrick starts off well but doesn’t finish well in these restrictor plate races.
That has to change on Saturday night.
Chevrolet has been down compared to their Toyota and Ford counterparts all year long. They have one victory but that came in the first race with Austin Dillon’s Daytona 500 triumph. They haven’t won since.
But, Chevy has shown that they can compete on plate tracks and HMS could benefit the most on Saturday. Can they stay out of trouble though?