It looks like Chase Elliott has reasons to celebrate. The 20-year-old rookie driver has secured the pole at this year’s Daytona 500, making him the youngest to do so in NASCAR history.
“This is a very, very cool day. I don’t know that this opportunity has sunk in yet, much less sitting on the pole for the Daytona 500,” Elliott remarked after Dale Earnhardt Jr, the last qualifier, failed to beat his time.
The No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS driver took pole position with a lap time best of 45.845 seconds and a top speed of 196.314 mph. Meanwhile, No. 20 Toyota driver Matt Kenseth had no choice but to settle for 2nd. He missed the pole by .065 seconds when his best time only got him 45.910 seconds as he registered a top speed of 196.036 mph.
Today, only Elliott and Kenseth have secured locked-in positions for the upcoming Daytona 500. The remaining drivers will still have to fight it out during the 150-mile Can-Am Duel qualifying races happening on Thursday night.
Elliott’s pole position also happens to be the 10th Daytona 500 pole achieved by the Hendrick Motorsports team. Interestingly, it is also the third Daytona 500 pole for the No. 24 Chevrolet car with the previous two being won by four-time premier series champion Jeff Gordon back in 1999 and 2015. Last year, Gordon announced that 2015 would his final full year. Following this, Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick had a conversation with Elliott as he got filled in regarding “what is about to happen.” Two weeks ago, the young driver from Dawsonville, Georgia said he was very excited to be on the grid along with heroes he grew up watching. Now, he’s beaten all of them.
Chase is the son of 1988 NASCAR champion Bill Elliott, and it looks like he’s on his way to becoming a champion himself. Watch Chase start from the front of the grid when Daytona 500 revs up on Sunday, February 21. Meanwhile, catch the Can-Am Duel 1 at 7:00 p.m. ET and Duel 2 at 8:30 p.m. ET on Thursday.