Chase Elliott wins 2016 Daytona 500 pole

From The Marbles

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida – Chase Elliott will start his first Daytona 500 from the top spot.

The driver replacing Jeff Gordon in the iconic No. 24 won the pole Sunday for the Daytona 500. Elliott's lap of 196.314 MPH was faster than Matt Kenseth's lap of 196.036 MPH. Kenseth will start second in the 500 while the rest of the starting order will be determined for the Feb. 21 race in qualifying races on Thursday.

Gordon won the pole in 2015 for his final Daytona 500.

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"I think the big thing is just the team and the Daytona 500 qualifying is about the team guys and the effort they put into these cars and it’s nothing special I did, it’s really what kind of work they did this off-season to make it happen," Elliott said. "Jeff knows all about that ... This is very special and a great way to start the season.”

Elliott, 20, is the second rookie in the last three years to win the pole for the 500. Austin Dillon, driving the No. 3, won the pole in 2014. Elliott also becomes the youngest driver to ever qualify first for stock car racing's biggest race.

Elliott was tabbed to replace Gordon in the No. 24 before the 2015 season. Gordon, a four-time Sprint Cup Series champion, announced his retirement in January 2015 and is now a broadcaster for Fox. Gordon was in the television booth as Elliott posted the lap to nab the top starting spot.

Elliott's father, Bill, is a four-time Daytona 500 pole winner. Chase Elliott won the 2014 Xfinity Series championship in his first season at NASCAR's second level. The Elliotts also become the fourth set of fathers and sons to win the pole for the 500, joining Richard and Kyle Petty, Bobby and Davey Allison and Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

And while the No. 24 won the top starting spot for the second-straight season, the way Elliott won his pole position was far different – and calmer – than the way Gordon won in 2015.

After last season's group qualifying experiment was an abject disaster with a multi-car wreck plaguing the event, NASCAR reverted back to single-car runs for the front row. Gordon got his top spot by catching the best draft in the second round of qualifying. Elliott simply had the fastest car in the second round among the 12 cars that qualified for it.

Yes, single-car qualifying at Daytona can be boring, but the double-round single-car runs in 2016 were a nice compromise between the traditional single-car two-lap qualifying sessions that decided the front row through 2014 and the mess that was 2015.

The session took approximately 90 minutes instead of three hours (like in the previous single-car format) and each driver got one timed lap. The top 12 drivers among the 44 entrants moved on to a second round where they raced for the pole.

The only drama involved Martin Truex Jr., who didn't get to make a qualifying run. A roof flap on the No. 78 was popped up just a little bit and NASCAR subsequently had the team go back through inspection. It was unclear how the roof flap got into the position it was in or if it was like that during pre-qualifying inspection and it wasn't noticed until later.

Since Truex's team is one of the 36 with charters, he's in no danger of missing the race. He'll just have to start at the end of the second qualifying race on Thursday. Kevin Harvick and Brian vickers' times were disallowed after improper track bars were found in post-qualifying inspection. They'll start at the rear of the field in the Duels too.

Ryan Blaney and Matt DiBenedetto are guaranteed starting spots in the Daytona 500. They were the two fastest qualifying drivers for teams without charters. 36 charters were granted as part of a new ownership structure announced in the Sprint Cup Series earlier in the week. Those 36 teams are guaranteed starting spots in the Daytona 500, leaving four open spots for eight other teams and cars. The two fastest non-charter cars in Sunday's qualifying earned 500 spots while the other two will be decided in the qualifying races on Thursday night.

Here's how those qualifying races will line up.

Duel 1
1. Chase Elliott
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
4. Ryan Blaney
5. Austin Dillon
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Joey Logano
8. Kasey Kahne
9. Paul Menard
10. Brad Keselowski
11. Greg Biffle
12. Brian Scott
13. Michael McDowell
14. Regan Smith
15. Chris Buescher
16. Bobby Labonte
17. Trevor Bayne
18. Clint Bowyer
19. Cole Whitt
20. David Ragan
21. Josh Wise
22. Kevin Harvick





















Duel 2
1. Matt Kenseth
2. Kyle Busch
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Carl Edwards
5. Kurt Busch
6. Casey Mears
7. Ryan Newman
8. Ty Dillon
9. Aric Almirola
10. Jamie McMurray
11. Kyle Larson
12. Matt DiBenedetto
13. Michael Waltrip
14. Danica Patrick
15. AJ Allmendinger
16. Michael Annett
17. Landon Cassill
18. Robert Richardson
19. David Gilliland
20. Reed Sorenson
21. Martin Truex Jr.
22. Brian Vickers
























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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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