Sunday, February 14, 2016

Chase Elliott Wins 58th Daytona 500 Pole Position

Chase Elliott won his first career NASCAR Cup Series pole position and Elliott is the youngest ever Daytona 500 pole-sitter at 20 years, two months and 18 days. This will be Elliott's first race in the #24 Chevrolet after replacing the retired Jeff Gordon. Elliott ran five Cup races last season. Three of the last four Daytona 500 pole positions have been won by rookie drivers. Danica Patrick and Austin Dillon won the Daytona 500 pole position in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Gordon won it last year.

Matt Kenseth qualified second and will start first in the second Daytona 500 qualifying race on Thursday night. Kenseth is a two-time Daytona 500 winner. This will be his best career start in the Daytona 500.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. qualified third and he will start second in the first race on Thursday night. Earnhardt, Jr. was the fastest qualifier in the first segment of qualifying. Kyle Busch qualified fourth and Busch will make it an all-Joe Gibbs Racing row one for the second qualifying race. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. was fifth fastest in qualifying and he will start third in race one with Jimmie Johnson starting third in race two.

Ryan Blaney was the fastest "open entry" and he has locked himself into the Daytona 500. Blaney was seventh fastest with Austin Dillon eighth quickest. They will start fourth and fifth in race one on Thursday. Carl Edwards qualified ninth and he will start fourth in race two. Denny Hamlin rounded out the top ten and he will start sixth in race two. Kurt Busch and Joey Logano rounded out the second round of qualifying. Kurt Busch will start fifth in race two with Logano starting seventh in race one.

Race One Grid:
Kasey Kahne starts on Logano's outside on row four. The 2007 Daytona 500 winner Kevin Harvick will start ninth with Ty Dillon rounding out the top ten. Aric Almirola will start 11th with Greg Biffle making it an all-Ford row six.

Brian Scott will start 13th with Michael McDowell starting 14th. McDowell is second best starting open entry. The top finishing open entry in each qualifying race will make the Daytona 500. If Blaney is the top finishing open entry, McDowell will make it on his qualifying time. Regan Smith and defending NASCAR Grand National Series champion Chris Buescher will start on row eight. This will be Buescher's in his first ever Daytona 500 qualifying race.

Bobby Labonte is the oldest driver entered for the 58th Daytona 500 and he will start 17th. The youngest ever Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne will start 18th. Clint Bowyer and Cole Whitt round out the top twenty. David Ragan and Josh Wise will start on the final row. Whitt and Wise have to race their way in.

Race Two Grid:
Casey Mears will start sixth in the second Daytona 500 qualifying race. The 2008 Daytona 500 winner Ryan Newman will start seventh and Paul Menard will start eighth. Brad Keselowski and Brian Vickers will start on row five. Vickers is substituting for the injured Tony Stewart. It's an all-Ganassi row six with Jamie McMurray starting on the inside and Kyle Larson starting on the outside.

Matt DiBenedetto starts 13th. DiBenedetto is locked into the Daytona 500 on his qualifying speed. He was the second-fastest open entry. If DiBenedetto races his way in, McDowell would get in based on his qualifying time. Two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip will start 14th Danica Patrick and A.J. Allmendinger will start on row eight.

Michael Annett and Landon Cassill will start on row nine. Robert Richardson, Jr. and David Gilliland will start on row ten. If both Blaney and DiBenedetto race their way in, McDowell and Richardson, Jr. will make the Daytona 500 on their qualifying time. Gilliland can only race his way into the Daytona 500. The eleventh row for race two features Reed Sorenson and Martin Truex, Jr. Sorenson has to race his way into the Daytona 500. Truex, Jr. did not make a lap in qualifying after a problem with his roof flap.

The Daytona 500 qualifying races will take place at 7:00 p.m. ET on Thursday.