DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – A bum ankle can’t slow Chase Elliott down as he was the fastest driver at the Daytona International Speedway on Friday evening. The Hendrick Motorsports driver was a full mph faster than anyone else in the opening round of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying for Saturday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 (7 p.m. ET/NBC/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Network). Then, in the money round, Elliott circled the high banked 2.5-mile track with a speed of 194.045 mph to earn his fourth career Cup Series pole. Three of which have occurred at Daytona.
In fact, all four of the Georgia natives’ poles have come on restrictor plate tracks in general.
Elliott will be joined on the front row by his teammate Alex Bowman. He was P2 in the opening round and has an official qualifying speed of 193.046 mph in his No. 88 Chevrolet. It Bowman’s second front row starting spot of the year as he also earned the pole for February’s Daytona 500 too. In fact, this is the same front row as last year’s race in Daytona with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Elliott starting 1-2 last July. They were 1-2 in the opposite order for the 2017 Daytona 500.
A third Hendrick driver in Jimmie Johnson earned the fourth starting spot (192.361 mph) to give HMS three of the top four starters.
Brad Keselowski broke up the Hendrick party and will start third. The Team Penske driver qualified with a speed of 192.802 mph in his No. 2 Ford.
Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five.
With 41 cars entered, one car had to go home. That was Timothy Peters who was slowest among the five open cars.
Coke Zero Sugar 400 Starting Lineup
Row 1: Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman
Row 2: Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson
Row 3: Kevin Harvick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Row 4: Ryan Newman, Michael McDowell
Row 5: Clint Bowyer, Austin Dillon
Row 6: Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney
Row 7: Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson
Row 8: Kyle Busch, Brendan Gaughan
Row 9: Denny Hamlin, William Byron R
Row 10: Ty Dillon, Trevor Bayne
Row 11: David Ragan, Darrell Wallace Jr. R
Row 12: Kurt Busch, AJ Allmendinger
Row 13: Chris Buescher, Aric Almirola
Row 14: Jamie McMurray, Kasey Kahne
Row 15: Erik Jones, Paul Menard
Row 16: Matt DiBenedetto, Daniel Suarez
Row 17: Ross Chastain, Jeffrey Earnhardt
Row 18: DJ Kennington, Joey Gase
Row 19: Landon Cassill, Corey LaJoie
Row 20: Ray Black Jr., JJ Yeley