Chase Elliott dominates qualifying for third Daytona pole

Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Hooters Chevrolet, poses with the pole award after qualifying on the pole for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2018 in Daytona Beach, Florida

A sprained ankle didn’t prevent Chase Elliott from putting his foot to the floorboard on Friday at Daytona International Speedway.

Elliott powered around the 2.5-mile track in 46.381 seconds (194.045 mph) to win the pole position for Saturday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 (7 p.m. on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) by a whopping .24 seconds over Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman (193.046 mph).

The Busch Pole Award was Elliott’s first of the season and the fourth of his career, all of which have come at restrictor-plate superspeedways—three of them at Daytona.

With Jimmie Johnson qualifying fourth at 192.361 mph, Hendrick Chevrolets took three of the top four starting positions for the 18th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of the season. Third-place qualifier Brad Keselowski broke up the monopoly with a lap at 192.802 mph in the No. 2 Team Penske Ford.

Earlier in the week, Elliott sprained his right ankle—the one that mashes the accelerator—while “horsing around at the pool.” He had the ankle X-rayed at the infield care center at the track.

“I didn’t really want to do that, so I’ve been trying to draw as least amount of attention as possible to that,” Elliott said. “But it’s all good. Yeah, had a little ankle sprain, but we are good and ready to go.”

Saturday’s race will mark Elliott’s 95th start in NASCAR’s top series. Those 94 events have produced 26 top five’s—including eight runner-up results—but no wins.

“I think it gives everybody confidence,” Elliott said of the pole-winning effort. “Having a good pit stall is certainly nice. That can matter at the end of these races. Sharing the front row with your teammate is also nice, too.

“So we’ll just have to see. The race is a whole different ballgame, but to have speed in our Chevrolet is nice, and to have (sponsor) Hooters for their first race of the season on the pole is cool, too. Looking forward to tomorrow night.”

Kevin Harvick qualified fifth, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Newman, Michael McDowell and Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon. Seven Fords and five Chevrolets made the final round. Reigning series champion Martin Truex Jr. will start 13th in the top-qualifying Toyota.

With rain wiping out Thursday’s second Cup practice, Friday’s time trials were more of a question mark than they otherwise would have been.

“It was OK, I think—you never know what you’re going to get here,” Truex said of his starting position. “Not much practice yesterday, and we didn’t do any qualifying runs, so we just kind of winged it. I think 13th will be an OK starting spot.”

Series leader Kyle Busch earned the 15th spot on the grid.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying Results Coke Zero Sugar 400

Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Beach, Florida

Friday, July 06, 2018

1. (9)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 194.045 mph.

2. (88)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 193.046 mph.

3. (2)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 192.802 mph.

4. (48)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 192.361 mph.

5. (4)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 192.345 mph.

6. (17)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 192.164 mph.

7. (31)  Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 191.812 mph.

8. (34)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 191.669 mph.

9. (14)  Clint Bowyer, Ford, 191.445 mph.

10. (3)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 191.298 mph.

11. (22)  Joey Logano, Ford, 191.152 mph.

12. (12)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 190.981 mph.

13. (78)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 191.209 mph.

14. (42)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 191.140 mph.

15. (18)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 190.913 mph.

16. (62)  Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 190.900 mph.

17. (11)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 190.876 mph.

18. (24)  William Byron #, Chevrolet, 190.868 mph.

19. (13)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 190.832 mph.

20. (6)  Trevor Bayne, Ford, 190.819 mph.

21. (38)  David Ragan, Ford, 190.634 mph.

22. (43)  Bubba Wallace #, Chevrolet, 190.565 mph.

23. (41)  Kurt Busch, Ford, 190.396 mph.

24. (47)  AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 190.339 mph.

25. (37)  Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 190.042 mph.

26. (10)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 190.034 mph.

27. (1)  Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 189.777 mph.

28. (95)  Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 189.649 mph.

29. (20)  Erik Jones, Toyota, 189.434 mph.

30. (21)  Paul Menard, Ford, 189.203 mph.

31. (32)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 188.336 mph.

32. (19)  Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 188.001 mph.

33. (15)  Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 187.371 mph.

34. (7)  Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 187.324 mph.

35. (96)  DJ Kennington, Toyota, 186.312 mph.

36. (00)  Joey Gase(i), Chevrolet, 185.361 mph.

37. (99)  Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 185.033 mph.

38. (72)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 184.976 mph.

39. (51)  Ray Black II(i), Chevrolet, 183.146 mph.

40. (23)  JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, 182.730 mph.

1 drivers failed to qualify.

41. (92)  Timothy Peters(i), Ford, 181.068 mph.

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