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Chase Elliott nips Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win second consecutive Daytona 500 pole

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Chase Elliott became the first driver to win consecutive Daytona 500 poles since Ken Schrader more than 25 years ago.

Elliott won the pole with a lap of 192.872 mph Sunday at Daytona International Speedway. He’ll be joined on the front row by Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., who qualified after a lap of 192.864 mph.

“It’s cool to share a front row with a teammate,” Elliott said.

Said Earnhardt: “I’d certainly would have loved to have gotten the pole, but I know (car owner Rick Hendrick) is happy. He’s got to be thrilled with having his cars up front.”

MORE: Daytona 500 qualifying results

Elliott’s pole marked the third consecutive year Hendrick Motorsports has won the Daytona 500 pole. It also was the third consecutive year crew chief Alan Gustafson, who grew up in the shadows of this track, had guided the pole-winning team. The last crew chief to win three consecutive Daytona 500 poles was Ernie Elliott from 1985-87.

“I think that’s really cool,” Chase Elliott said. “To date back, I know how much success they had down here and how much they enjoyed coming and how good Dad was at racing at this place and how good Uncle Ernie is at building motors to this day. It means a lot to me, so that’s pretty cool.”

Schrader was the last driver to win consecutive Daytona 500 poles when he did so from 1988-90.

Brendan Gaughan and Elliott Sadler each secured a spot in the Daytona 500 by being the fastest two non-chartered teams. The two fastest non-chartered teams and the highest finishing non-chartered driver in each qualifying race on Thursday will make the 40-car field. Thirty-six spots are guaranteed to charter teams.

Gaughan, who is with Beard Motorsports, will make his second Daytona 500 start. His only start in this race came in 2004.

Sadler is driving for Tommy Baldwin Racing and making his 14th start in the Daytona 500 but first since 2012. He finished second in the 2002 race.

The rest of the Daytona 500 starting lineup will be set after Thursday night’s 150-mile qualifying races.

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NASCAR America: Kyle Busch questions Xfinity rules package at Indy

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Kyle Busch isn’t afraid to speak his mind, and he certainly did so after Saturday’s  Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

NASCAR implemented a number of changes to make the racing closer, tighter and more exciting — including restrictor plates, a larger rear spoiler, aero ducts, and a smaller splitter — and achieved all that on many fronts.

But not for the younger Busch brother, who wasn’t pleased with the rules package. Was it actually designed to specifically slow him down rather than to even out things for the entire field?

Or was he just simply upset because he didn’t win a third Xfinity race in a row at IMS?

Check out how our NASCAR America analysts gauged the Xfinity changes in the above video.

 

TriStar Motorsports team owner Mark Smith passes away

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Mark Smith, owner of TriStar Motorsports, died Saturday at his home, after a long battle with cancer, the team announced Monday. He was 63.

He began his racing career building engines for his brother Jack’s drag car in the 1970s. He moved his family from the West Coast in the early 1990s to pursue a career in NASCAR. He was the owner of TriStar Motorsports and Pro Motor Engines.

TriStar Motorsports fields the No. 14 in the Xfinty Series with JJ Yeley and the No. 72 in the Cup Series with Cole Whitt. The team stated the team will continue operations under the management of Bryan Smith, son of Mark Smith.

“It was dad’s dream to own and operate a NASCAR team,” Bryan Smith said. “He devoted his life to that dream and his family plans to honor his wishes by continuing our efforts in his memory.”

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Victory Junction Gang victoryjunction.org or NOVA (National Organization for Vehicle Access, part of the BraunAbility) novafunding.org.

The family will receive friends from 5-8 p.m. ET, Aug. 1 at Cavin-Cook Funeral Home, Mooresville, North Carolina. They have created a Facebook page where you are encouraged to leave a story for the family to enjoy. (facebook.com/Remembering-Mark-Smith-301261653675224)

NASCAR America: Analysts break down Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. wreck (video)

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Given how wild the Brickyard 400 played out, the big wreck between race leaders Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. wasn’t exactly surprising.

Rather, with the way the race transpired from the opening lap, was the Busch/Truex wreck almost inevitable?

Truex got loose and washed up into the left rear of Busch’s car, sending both drivers and their respective cars into the outside retaining walls, hitting hard and ending their respective days.

Check out what our NASCAR America analysts had to say about the wreck from Monday’s show in the above video.

NASCAR America: Dale Earnhardt Jr. recaps wild Brickyard 400 (video)

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On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, Dale Earnhardt Jr. — who will become part of our NBC Sports Group in 2018 — looked back on a wild and intense Brickyard 400.

Earnhardt was one of several drivers whose day came to an early ending — in Junior’s case when he ran into the back of Trevor Bayne‘s car, destroying his radiator in the process.

All the mayhem and mishaps could be linked to over-aggressive driving, Earnhardt said, saying that every driver was in “attack mode,” especially on restarts.

Check out Junior in the video above.