VIDEO: Hendrick Teammates Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Will Sit on Front Row In Daytona 500
By Andrew Booth, Director Of Media Daytona Intl. Speedway // February 20, 2017
Can-Am Duel on Thursday SetS Rest of the Field
ABOVE VIDEO: Chase Elliott narrowly beats out teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win his second straight Daytona 500 pole.
DAYTONA, FLORIDA – Chase Elliott (192.872 mph) and his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. (192.864 mph) – form the front row of the 59th annual Daytona 500 set for Feb 26.
Sunday’s qualifying also established the starting grids for Thursday night’s Can-Am Duel, a pair of 150-mile races that set the field (beyond the front row) for the Great American Race, the Monster Energy Series season-opening race.
For the first time since 1971, the Can-Am Duel races are awarding driver and owner points in the Monster Energy Series championship battle.
Elliott, driving the No. 24 NAPA Chevrolet, is on the pole for the second-straight year.
He is the fifth driver in the race’s history to repeat as the polesitter; the last was Ken Schrader who had a three-year streak from 1988-90. Last year Elliott was involved in an early-race incident and finished 37th, 40 laps down.
“Unfortunately, we tore up a lot of stuff here last year,” Elliott said, “so I hope we can just try to get to the end of the 500 next.
“But, just making it to the end and having yourself in position, obviously we’d love to have a shot to win this thing. So, it would be great and I think we have a car that can do it. So, we’ll find out.”
Earnhardt is back at the wheel of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet after missing most of last season due to concussion-like symptoms. A two-time (2004 and ’14) Daytona 500 champion, Earnhardt was the race’s polesitter in 2011.
“I certainly would have loved to have gotten a pole, but my boss man (team owner Rick Hendrick) is happy,” Earnhardt said. “He’s got to be thrilled with having his cars up front.”
Two drivers from a group of six who are not guaranteed spots in the Daytona 500 field – 36 drivers are guaranteed spots via their status as NASCAR “Charter” entries – clinched spots in the race, based on their speeds Sunday:
Elliott Sadler of Tommy Baldwin Racing and Brendan Gaughan of Beard Motorsports.
The two fastest “Open” entrants in qualifying clinched spots in the field.
The other four Open drivers will have to “race their way in” in the Can-Am Duel.
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