TALLADEGA, Ala.– Chase Elliott will lead the field to the green flag tomorrow at Talladega.
The driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet scored the pole for the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway after posting a time of 49.704 and a speed of 192.661 mph.
“It’s obviously really special,” Elliott said on getting the pole at Talladega. “They were just telling me that on this day 30 years ago I think Dad set the (track) record here. That is pretty special. This has always been a special place to him and certainly great to be here and have the opportunity in Sprint Cup, Hendrick Motorsports, Napa Auto Parts to come be a part of this weekend. Like I said in Daytona, this is all team guys. This had nothing to do with me and they have brought a fast car back. This is our same car that we ran at Daytona. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring it home in one piece, they had to fix it, but they did a great job doing that and hopefully, we can just try to be smart, try to cut down on some of the dumb mistakes I made in February and try to give ourselves a shot and be there at the end.”
It’s his second career pole in the Sprint Cup Series and second of 2016.
“I do think racing and trying to stay up front is important,” he said. “It’s obviously much easier said than done, but I think for us having a good pit road selection is very important. I think that becomes a big factor at the end of the day when you come onto pit road with a big group of cars and being able to run down pit road and have that first box is big. Hopefully, that helps, but you’ve got to get to the end of the day for that to matter. Unfortunately, I didn’t do that in February so hopefully, we can do that tomorrow and see how it goes.”
Austin Dillon will start second in his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet after posting a time of 49.765 and a speed of 192.424 mph.
“The No. 24 car has won all the poles the last two years at speedways it seems like,” Dillon said. “To be that close to him and we know we can get a little better here and there, but that is just the big pick up. I think we qualified 24th here the last race. Huge pick up for us and we are excited for the race.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start third in his No. 88 HMS Chevrolet after posting a time of 49.799 and a speed of 192.293 mph.
“We picked up a little bit,” Earnhardt said. “I was just talking with Kasey (Kahne) about our lines and what we did different. We think we saw a little bit out there that makes a difference. We were able to pick up a little bit. It’s hard to move forward in the second round at speedways. Usually, what you’ve got in the first round is what you’ve got in the second round, but we jumped a couple of guys and got a better starting spot.”
Matt Kenseth will start fourth in his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota after posting a time of 49.828 and a speed of 192.181 mph.
“We seemed to have pretty good speed,” Kenseth said. “We had good speed, but qualifying doesn’t necessarily mean a lot for the race. These guys have been doing a good job and I qualified well at Daytona and qualified well here, so that was encouraging that they got the speed in the car.”
Jimmie Johnson will round out the top-five starters in his No. 48 HMS Chevrolet after posting a time of 49.845 and a speed of 192.116 mph.
“The car is really good,” Johnson said. “The race environment is so much different than what we have in practice. We didn’t want to go out in the second (practice session) and risk the race car. We made a few single-car runs in the first just to see where our speed was and to get our tape and our heights right. It’s rare that you come to the race track and find some more speed during the practice session. It’s really done at the shop. We are just trying to minimize our risk and our time on the track.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will start sixth in his No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.
“We have a great starting spot,” Stenhouse said. “We have to try to keep our track position all race. I feel like we haven’t done a very good job of that on the speedway races. I think that is a key because you are not going to be able to get track position in the last 30 laps. You have to keep it all race.”
Brad Keselowski will start seventh in his No. 2 Team Penske Ford.
“It was a much better effort than we have had here in the past which bodes well,” Keselowski said. “We were really fast in speedweeks for the Unlimited and it didn’t showcase itself in the 500 at all. We qualified terribly and ran terribly all weekend. That was very disappointing. We came here and qualified well in an impound scenario and that feels good.”
Denny Hamlin will start eighth in his No. 11 JGR Toyota. Carl Edwards will start ninth in his No. 19 JGR Toyota.
“The Toyotas seemed to have some speed, so this is good,” Edwards said. “We actually picked up a little bit of time the second round which is great. Now we’ll just go race.”
Paul Menard will round out the top-10 in his No. 27 RCR Chevrolet.
“We had a nice pick up from yesterday,” Menard said. “That is always a good thing. The cars are cooler in qualifying than they are in race practice. When you can pick up from practice to qualifying that is always a good thing. I’m proud of my guys. A good top 10 starting spot and good pit selection.”
Kasey Kahne will start 11th in his No. 5 HMS Chevrolet.
“Really fast cars and all of us (Hendrick Motorsports) had good speed,” Kahne said. “We slowed down a little bit in the final round, which is surprising, but other than that we were really good.”
Martin Truex Jr. will round out the 12 drivers that made the final round of qualifying in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota.
When asked about his qualifying effort, he said it was “uneventful” in a good way. “Anytime it’s uneventful, it’s good. We’re ready to go racing. I thought everybody picked up, but us, which is kind of interesting, but I don’t know why that is. Other than that, everything is good.”
Josh Wise was the one car that failed to qualify.C1610_STARTROW