DOVER, Del. — Single-car qualifying returned to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Friday afternoon at Dover Int’l Speedway and Chase Elliott charged to a track record lap to win the pole for Sunday’s Gander RV 400 at the one-mile concrete oval.
Elliott, who won last week’s race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, turned a lap of 21.692 seconds at 165.960 mph to lead a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet sweep of the front row. His teammate, William Byron was second with a lap of 21.745 seconds.
It was Elliott’s sixth career pole for Elliott, who won the fall race at Dover.
“The corner speeds are just so high,” Elliott said. “It was a lot of fun. Our NAPA Brakes Chevy was good right there. This place can be a lot of fun in qualifying or it can be a handful. Today was one of those fun ones. Team Hendrick one-two is awesome. Hope we can back it up on Sunday.”
Byron was on the pole most of the way through qualifying, only to see Elliott take the top spot late in the session.
“We were close,” Byron said. “I thought our draw was a little bit unlucky to go out so early, but we put a decent lap up. A bit of a bummer to not get the pole.”
Kyle Larson was third in a Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, while Joe Gibbs Racing Ford driver Joey Logano was fourth and Alex Bowman fifth in a third Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
Logano talked about the change in the qualifying format.
“It changes the game,” the reigning series champion said. “You don’t have that mulligan in your back pocket. You don’t have the ability to come back in and make an adjustment to your car. Or if you messed up on your line, you have to pay a penalty, you don’t have a chance to fix it. It’s more challenging from that standpoint.”
Kevin Harvick (Ford), Aric Almirola (Ford), Denny Hamlin (Toyota), Brad Keselowski (Ford) and Clint Bowyer (Ford) rounded out the top 10.
Jimmie Johnson was 12thin the fourth Hendrick Motorsports machine.
Kyle Busch, the dominant driver through the first part of the season, will start 22nd.