Numerologists doubtless will have a field day with the front row for Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway (on FOX at 1 p.m. ET, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Touring the 2.66-mile race track in 49.704 seconds (192.661 mph) during Saturday's time trials, Chase Elliott put the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet on the pole, making the 20-year-old rookie driver two-for-two at restrictor-plate superspeedways.
In his first qualifying run as a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, Elliott won the pole for the season-opening Daytona 500.
The pole was the sixth at Talladega for the No. 24, the first five having been recorded by Jeff Gordon, who retired after the 2015 season and turned the car over to Elliott.
And the pole run came roughly 30 years after Elliott's father, Bill Elliott, earned the top starting spot for the spring Talladega race with a lap at 212.229 mph, before restrictor plates were introduced at the superspeedways.
Coincidentally, Bill Elliott also won the pole for the Daytona 500 in 1986.
"This is definitely a special place," Chase Elliott said after his pole-winning run. "It's cool to get it done today. This is a team effort, and those guys and everybody at the No. 5 and No. 24 shop, in particular, and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports and the Hendrick engine department and obviously (sponsor) NAPA Auto parts.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]"But, man, this is cool. Those guys do such a good job. And as I said in Daytona, this had nothing to do with me. This is the car that we had. This is the same car we had in Daytona. They brought another fast one here."
The car Elliott beat for the pole, the No. 3 Chevrolet driven by Austin Dillon (192.424 mph), also has a noteworthy history at Talladega. Driving the No. 3 for owner Richard Childress, Dillon’s grandfather, the late Dale Earnhardt collected nine of his 10 Talladega victories and all three of his Talladega poles.
"There's a lot of history here with Dale and RCR," Dillon said. "A lot of good stuff happened with RCR here, so hopefully we can continue that streak of good runs for RCR here. We’ve got a car capable of doing that, obviously, with the qualifying effort, and I'd love for it to be my first Cup win."
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has never won a pole at NASCAR's biggest oval track but has six race wins on his resume here, qualified third at 192.293 mph. Matt Kenseth (192.181 mph) claimed the fourth position on the grid, followed by Jimmie Johnson (192.116 mph) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (192.089 mph).
The only other driver to top 192 mph was seventh-place starter Brad Keselowski (192.008 mph), a three-time Talladega winner.
Ty Dillon qualified the No. 14 Chevrolet for Tony Stewart and earned the 14th starting spot, but Stewart will start Sunday’s race and will have to drop to the rear for the green flag because of the driver change. The plan is for Stewart, who returned to action last Sunday at Richmond after injuring his back during the offseason, to turn the car over to Dillon during the first caution of the race.
Note: Josh Wise failed to make the 40-car field.
|1||24||Chase Elliott||Chevrolet||NAPA Auto Parts||192.661||49.704||Leader|
|2||3||Austin Dillon||Chevrolet||Dow – Energy & Water / Intellifresh||192.424||49.765||0.061|
|3||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr||Chevrolet||Nationwide||192.293||49.799||0.095|
|4||20||Matt Kenseth||Toyota||Dollar General||192.181||49.828||0.124|
|6||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr||Ford||Fifth Third Bank Ford Fusion||192.089||49.852||0.148|
|7||2||Brad Keselowski||Ford||Miller Lite||192.008||49.873||0.169|
|8||11||Denny Hamlin||Toyota||FedEx Express||191.954||49.887||0.183|
|10||27||Paul Menard||Chevrolet||Moen / Menards||191.812||49.924||0.22|
|11||5||Kasey Kahne||Chevrolet||Farmers Insurance||191.789||49.93||0.226|
|12||78||Martin Truex Jr||Toyota||Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats||191.581||49.984||0.28|
|13||6||Trevor Bayne||Ford||Advocare Ford Fusion||191.566||49.988||0.284|
|14||14||Tony Stewart||Chevrolet||Bass Pro Shops||191.509||50.003||0.299|
|16||16||Greg Biffle||Ford||Ford EcoBoost Ford Fusion||191.191||50.086||0.382|
|17||18||Kyle Busch||Toyota||Skittles Marvel||191.164||50.093||0.389|
|18||41||Kurt Busch||Chevrolet||Monster Energy||191.039||50.126||0.422|
|19||21||Ryan Blaney||Ford||Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire + Auto Center||190.921||50.157||0.453|
|21||44||Brian Scott||Ford||Twisted Tea||190.73||50.207||0.503|
|22||22||Joey Logano||Ford||Shell Pennzoil||190.382||50.299||0.595|
|23||43||Aric Almirola||Ford||Fresh From Florida||190.26||50.331||0.627|
|25||7||Regan Smith||Chevrolet||Golden Corral Chevrolet||190.109||50.371||0.667|
|26||32||Bobby Labonte||Ford||RIMROCK DEVLIN||189.966||50.409||0.705|
|27||34||Chris Buescher||Ford||Love’s Travel Stops / CSX-Play it Safe||189.925||50.42||0.716|
|28||47||AJ Allmendinger||Chevrolet||Kroger / Hungry Jack / Crisco||189.921||50.421||0.717|
|29||4||Kevin Harvick||Chevrolet||Busch Fishing Chevrolet SS||189.8||50.453||0.749|
|31||95||Michael McDowell||Chevrolet||Thrivent Financial||189.519||50.528||0.824|
|32||38||Landon Cassill||Ford||FR8 Auctions||189.47||50.541||0.837|
|33||55||Michael Waltrip||Chevrolet||Peak & BlueDEF Toyota Camry||189.313||50.583||0.879|
|34||15||Clint Bowyer||Chevrolet||AccuDoc Solutions||189.025||50.66||0.956|
|35||83||Matt DiBenedetto||Toyota||Dustless Blasting||189.01||50.664||0.96|
|37||10||Danica Patrick||Chevrolet||Aspen Dental||188.954||50.679||0.975|
|38||46||Michael Annett||Chevrolet||Pilot Flying J||188.478||50.807||1.103|
|39||35||David Gilliland||Ford||Shaw's Southern Belle Seafood||188.467||50.81||1.106|
|40||23||David Ragan||Toyota||Schluter Systems||187.636||51.035||1.331|