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Daytona 500 pole deja vu links Alan Gustafson and Chase Elliott, Bill and Ernie Elliott

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Chase Elliott winning the pole for the season-opening Daytona 500 for the second consecutive year is somewhat of a case of déjà vu.

It’s the second straight year that Elliott has taken the pole for the “Great American Race.”

And it’s the third consecutive year that Elliott’s crew chief, Alan Gustafson, has been the pole-winning crew chief for the Daytona 500: twice with Elliott and with Jeff Gordon in 2015.

Here’s where the déjà vu comes into play: back in the mid-1980s, Chase’s father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, also won the pole for the Daytona 500 three consecutive times (from 1985-87) – all with the same crew chief, his brother (and Chase’s uncle) Ernie Elliott.

In fact, in the six races at Daytona International Speedway from 1985 through 1987 – three Daytona 500s and three summer races – Bill and Ernie Elliott captured four poles and were outside pole winners the two other times.

“That was something that was really cool to me,” Chase Elliott said during Wednesday’s Daytona 500 media day at Daytona International Speedway. “That’s pretty special, I think, a little bit of family heritage there with Alan, and I’m proud to have, like I said, a very, very small part in that.”

The younger Elliott, last year’s NASCAR Cup Rookie of the Year, took the pole for Sunday’s race with a field-best lap of 46.663 seconds at 192.872 mph. Not only was it his second consecutive pole at Daytona, it was his third career Cup pole overall.

There’s more to the story, though: the younger Elliott becomes only the fifth driver in NASCAR history to win the Daytona 500 pole back-to-back in consecutive years. Of course, father Bill, is another member of that quintet.

And Bill and Chase are the fourth father-son combo to earn the pole for the “Great American Race.”

It’s also the fifth consecutive Daytona 500 pole for Chevrolet and the fifth time Hendrick Motorsports has owned the first two spots on the front row, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the outside of Elliott for Sunday’s race.

“That’s really cool to me,” Elliott said of all the related pole sitting trivia. “I’m happy to have a small part in that for sure.

“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.”

What’s next? Can Chase earn his first career NASCAR Cup win this Sunday (and with Gustafson on top of the pit box)? It would continue the déjà vu theme, as father Bill is a two-time winner of the Daytona 500 (1985, 1987) with brother Ernie also on the pit box.

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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.