Chevy Racing–NASCAR–Daytona 500 Pole Qualifying

FEBRUARY 19, 2017

Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Give Chevrolet Front Row for 59th Running of the Daytona 500
Fifth Consecutive Pole for Chevrolet in the Great American Race

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 19, 2017) – For the second consecutive year, Chase Elliot put the No. 24 NAPA Chevrolet SS on the pole for the season-opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Daytona 500. With a lap of 46.663 seconds/192.872 mph, the 2016 Cup Series Rookie-of-the-Year, claimed his third career pole.

In his return to competition after missing 18 races in 2016 recovering from symptoms of a concussion, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. qualified the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS in the second position, locking Chevrolet and Hendrick Motorsports into the front row for the 59th running of the Great American race.

“Congratulations to Chase, Alan and the No. 24 team for winning their second consecutive Daytona 500 pole. It was also great to see Dale Jr. back in the No. 88 Chevrolet SS, and he returned with speed to make it an all-Chevy front row. That’s an exciting way to end the weekend. ”

Elliott’s pole is the fifth consecutive for Chevrolet, and with his teammate starting alongside, it is the fifth-time Hendrick Motorsports has swept the front row for the season-opening race. The pilot of the No. 24 Chevy becomes just the fifth driver to win back-to-back poles for the Daytona 500.

“Their hard work and preparation over the past months made a difference today,” Campbell continued. “Now the Chevy teams and drivers can turn their attention to race preparation for the Duels and then the Daytona 500.”

A Chevrolet driver has sat on the pole for the Daytona 500 24 times in the 59-year history of the race. Elliott’s pole is the 689th pole for Chevrolet in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition.

Elliott finished round one of the two-round knock-out qualifying on the top of the leader board, followed by Earnhardt, Jr. The Team Chevy duo waited their turn in the round of 12 to determine the pole for the prestigious race set for Sunday, February 26, 2017.

A total of 17 Chevrolet SS drivers made a qualifying attempt to determine their starting position in the Can-AM Duel on Thursday. The line-up for the Daytona 500 starting with row two will be determined by the finishing order of the two 150-mile Duel races.

Brad Keselowski (Ford) was third, Clint Bowyer (Ford) was fourth and Martin Truex, Jr. (Toyota) rounded out the top five qualifiers in Sunday afternoon’s session.

The first Can-Am Duel race from the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway is slated to begin Thursday, February 23rd at 7 pm, ET on FoxSports 1, MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.

THE MODERATOR: We will conclude our Coors Light pole award qualifying for the Daytona 500. We are joined by our Coors Light pole award winner Chase Elliott, the driver of the No. 24 NAPA Chevrolet. A couple quick facts here for you, Chase. You are the fifth driver in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series history to win consecutive Daytona 500 poles. Your dad, Bill Elliott, is on that list. You and your dad are also the fourth father‑son duo to win the Daytona 500 pole. Why don’t you talk a little bit about that and your run out there today.

CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I think that’s really cool. Somebody told me, and I’m not sure of the exact fact, maybe somebody in here can help, but either the first time I think a car ‑‑ the same car or the same engine builder has won three Daytona 500 poles in a row since uncle Ernie and my dad did. Is that right?

THE MODERATOR: That’s correct, 1985 to ’87.

CHASE ELLIOTT: That’s really cool to me. Somebody told me that a minute ago, and that’s pretty neat. I’m happy to have a small part in that for sure. I think that’s really cool. To date back, I know how much success they had down here and how much they enjoyed coming and how good Dad was at racing at this place and how good Uncle Ernie is at building motors to this day. It means a lot to me, so that’s pretty cool.

Q. Are you thinking about how cool it is to win the pole or trying to figure out how you can get the car better from what you felt in your Clash car earlier today?

CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I’m definitely thinking about the race and what we can do to try to improve there. You know, Daytona was certainly a struggle for us last year just as far as getting into wrecks or wrecking and tearing up a lot of cars, so I hope we can just make it to the end of the race next week. That’s obviously a huge battle at times, and I think as this racetrack has worn and the surface gets older, tires are going to mean more, which I think is good for the folks that are sitting in those grandstands across from us and the folks watching on TV, which is good.

So, I think that’s going to have a little bit of a strategy play to it, and obviously qualifying well is great. I don’t necessarily know that the starting spot means quite as much as the pit road selection. That first pit stall I think can be a pretty big benefiting factor if you use it to your advantage, and unfortunately last year I didn’t make it to the first pit stop, so we didn’t get to use it. So, I hope we can use it this year and use it all day long would be a big help.

So, we’re thinking about that for sure to answer your question, and I think we have some good things and notes that we learned today to try to help for next week, and I hope we can just capitalize on all that and just try to put ourselves in a good spot.

Q. Chase, is winning the pole kind of a double‑edged sword because you’re the pole winner for a week rather than a day or two, and it’s the Daytona 500. You’ve been through this before; do you know what distractions to avoid now?

CHASE ELLIOTT: Oh, I think the biggest thing is, as everybody knows, it’s not so much about where you start and more about where you finish. Daytona 500 pole day, as it should be, is more about the teams and what they bring over the off‑season from the chassis shop to the 24 shop in particular, the body shot, our Hendrick department, Chevrolet. I think that’s what Daytona 500 qualifying has always been about. I think that’s where the attention should be, where it should be centered.
I think from a driver standpoint and from the race standpoint next week, the biggest thing you can take away is that pit stall I feel like, and once you get in the race, I think there are cars that race better, draft better than they might appear to qualify.

Anyway, like I said, I think that’s the biggest thing you can take away from that, and just try to use those couple things to our advantage next week will be the biggest thing.

Q. For as great as this accomplishment is for you and your family history, is there any tinge of, if not guilt, something, some emotion that you denied the Junior story line that certainly would have made a great deal of people happy today?

CHASE ELLIOTT: Well, I think – obviously, Dale is good down here, and we all knew he was going to be fast today. That’s no surprise. But I don’t really care who it is. I’m not going to feel bad about beating somebody. It’s cool to share a front row with a teammate is really the biggest thing I look at with that. But Dale is a good guy. I’m happy to share the front row with him, but happier to beat him, obviously, but regardless of who it is, that’s what you’re trying to do, you know.

Q. What was the week for you like last year from Sunday to Sunday, not just obviously, what you did here but off the track, and did you find you had too many commitments or just enough?

CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, last year was ‑‑ was pretty straightforward. We had a great week of ‑‑ a couple weeks of Speedweeks leading up until the 500, all the way until the 500. Unfortunately, the day that mattered most, we had a great run in the XFINITY race last year, which was a lot of fun, and got to go up and ride with the Thunderbirds last year in between the qualifying day and the race, which was pretty neat.

I don’t have that plan this year, but we’ll hang out for a couple days and take care of all the media obligations and things that NASCAR has scheduled for us, and we’ll be ready to rock and roll come next week.

Q. What do you remember about race day last year, being your first Daytona 500, being on the pole?

CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, for sure. It was obviously ‑‑ first stab at a full‑time Cup effort, which was just a lot going on it seemed like, and kind of going through the motions of that first Daytona 500, all the folks that are here, the folks from ‑‑ whether it’s sponsor people or people that NASCAR has invited. There was just a lot of people here, and kind of working your way through all those obligations. There’s a lot that comes along with that. I feel like for me it was kind of the beginning of trying to battle through the obligations and make sure you have your sights set on the race when it comes around.

The way our races are set up, we have so much stuff that leads basically all the way up until the time you get in the car. When you finally get in the car, you’re finally like, okay, we’re here and we can get going, so I think just being able to flip that switch when you get out on the grid and actually finally pile in the car, obviously, that’s a big point in time.

Q. Does last year’s 500 motivate you? Are you going to go into this one saying, I’m going to show that I’m not going to wreck early?

CHASE ELLIOTT: I sure would like to not wreck. That’s my goal every week is to not wreck. But you know, I definitely made a mistake last year and got in a wreck in the July race, too. Two for two on tearing up a lot of stuff in 2016 down here, so I hope that’s not the case. But that’s a given; I’m not going to try to wreck, to answer your question. Absolutely not.

Q. Does it motivate you or is it just something to learn from?

CHASE ELLIOTT: I think it does a little bit of both. I certainly learned things from it, and it motivates me to not want to do that, for sure. But hey, you’ve got to take it as it comes, and we’ll see what happens this time.

Q. You talked earlier about the tires and kind of the wear and how this track is wearing a little bit. Even from last year to this week, can you kind of explain how that’s creating ‑‑ how different that is? What is that making you feel? What’s the car doing differently out there on the track from last July, even from a year ago?

CHASE ELLIOTT: Well, the grip is just going away, and these racetracks that sit down here in Florida that bake in the sun all day long, where it stays warm all year, you know, it just puts a lot of age on the track. You can also say the same about places like Michigan or some of those spots who have super-hot summers but also get snow in the winter. So, that can be tough on a surface, too.

But it seems like these Florida tracks really lose a lot of color in the racetrack really fast, and I think that’s just because they have a lot of rain. It bakes in the sun all day and doesn’t get super cold. All that stuff added together, the racetrack just losing grip, and I think as the solution or the rocks and the racetrack become more and more coarse and we see that discoloration in the racetrack surfaces, all that stuff goes away, tires are becoming more and more important as the run goes on.

I do think it’s going to be important, especially if the temperatures are up, like it looks like they’re going to be throughout next week, to have tires on your car to where you can make some moves and not bust your tail.

THE MODERATOR: Chase, congratulations, and good luck next week in the Daytona 500.