Photo: Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing

Elliott, Earnhardt Jr. Make it an All Hendrick Daytona 500 Front Row

By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor

No this isn’t a recycled article from years past, there will be an all Hendrick Motorsports front row for the 2017 Daytona 500. On a week where all of the talk was about how fast the Ford and Toyota race teams were, it was Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr. who stood above the pack when it came to single car qualifying runs for the biggest race of the year.

Earnhardt, who is making his return to the sport after missing the second-half of last year with a concussion, narrowly missed securing the pole by just two one-thousandths of a second.

“We sure would have liked to have gotten a pole, happy my teammate Chase (Elliott) got the pole, congratulations to the No. 24 guys,” Earnhardt said.  “They just certainly know how to get the job done at these plate tracks for sure.  It will make Rick (Hendrick, team owner) happy to have all of the front row, an all Hendrick front row.  We are a little disappointed.  It would have been nice to get the pole, but it is good to be up front and starting up front for our qualifying race, that will be great.”

Elliott, by being quicker than Earnhardt by less than a snap of the finger, won his second-consecutive pole in The Great American Race.

“Yeah, this is really cool. I’m just happy for our NAPA team and it’s great to have Napa on board this weekend; and a big thanks to the Hendrick engine shop and Chevrolet. Everybody at Hendrick Motorsports has done a lot of work this off-season,” Elliott said. “This team definitely has a knack for these plate tracks as they showed with Jeff Gordon and then last year with here and Talladega. But that stuff doesn’t just happen by staying the same as everybody knows. Everyone is always trying to get better and make their cars better and faster; and the engine shop is always finding new things. So, I think that’s just proof that they’re improving with everybody else and taking that next step, which is really impressive. I’m happy to be a part of it and hopefully we can run good next Sunday.”

Both drivers are attempting to avenge a horrible outing in this race a year ago, when each of their races ended after getting loose in separate incidents off of turn four.

This marks the fourth time in the past 10 years that HMS has locked up the top-two starting spots for the Daytona 500.

All-Hendrick front rows for the Daytona 500 (Since 2008)

2017: Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2015: Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson
2011: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon
2010: Mark Martin, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Here is the starting lineup for Thursday’s Can-Am Duel Qualifying Race No. 1

  1. 24 – Chase Elliott
  2. 2 – Brad Keselowski
  3. 78 – Martin Truex Jr.
  4. 4 – Kevin Harvick
  5. 20 – Matt Kenseth
  6. 18 – Kyle Busch
  7. 17 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  8. 19 – Daniel Suarez (R)
  9. 22 – Joey Logano
  10. 6 – Trevor Bayne
  11. 27 – Paul Menard
  12. 1 – Jamie McMurray
  13. 43 – Aric Almirola
  14. 34 – Landon Cassill
  15. 32 – Matt DiBenedetto
  16. 37 – Chris Buescher
  17. 75 – Brendan Gaughan
  18. 15 – Michael Waltrip
  19. 55 – Reed Sorenson
  20. 23 – Joey Gase
  21. 51 – Timmy Hill

Here is the starting lineup for Thursday’s Can-Am Duel Qualifying Race No. 2

  1. 88 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  2. 14 – Clint Bowyer
  3. 11 – Denny Hamlin
  4. 5 – Kasey Kahne
  5. 31 – Ryan Newman
  6. 13 – Ty Dillon (R)
  7. 48 – Jimmie Johnson
  8. 42 – Kyle Larson
  9. 21 – Ryan Blaney
  10. 77 – Erik Jones (R)
  11. 41 – Kurt Busch
  12. 10 – Danica Patrick
  13. 3 – Austin Dillon
  14. 47 – AJ Allmendinger
  15. 95 – Michael McDowell
  16. 38 – David Ragan
  17. 72 – Cole Whitt
  18. 7 – Elliott Sadler
  19. 96 – D.J. Kennington
  20. 83 – Corey Lajoie
  21. 33 – Jeffrey Earnhardt

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Toby Christie is a contributing writer for Motorsports Tribune. He has been watching stock cars turn left since 1993, and has covered NASCAR as an accredited media member since 2007. Toby is a proud member of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA). Additionally, Toby is a lifelong Miami Dolphins fan, sub-par guitarist and he is pretty good around a mini-golf course.

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