DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Chase Elliott turned a lap of 194.045 mph to win the pole at Daytona International Speedway and give sagging Chevrolet a much-needed boost.
Elliott, who sprained his right ankle earlier this week “horsing around in the pool,” had won two poles at the Daytona 500. He starts from the top Saturday night as the Hendrick Motorsports driver goes for his first career win.
Hendrick teammate Alex Bowman joins Elliott on the front row. Bowman won the pole for this year’s Daytona 500 in the debut race for the Chevy Camaro.
Chevrolet has been mostly noncompetitive since Austin Dillon won the season-opening Daytona 500 in February. The American automaker hasn’t been to victory lane since and hadn’t really gotten close to a checkered. Toyota and Ford have pulled away in the standings.
Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson starts fourth in the No. 48 Chevrolet, giving Hendrick three of the top four spots.
Martin Truex Jr. starts 13th and was the top-qualifying Toyota. Truex, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch have made it a three-driver race to the championship. Harvick, who starts fifth, and Busch, at 15th, each has five wins.