Quick, can you name the last four winners of the Daytona 500 without Googling them?
But as of Sunday, can you name the last four pole-sitters for the Daytona 500? That’s likely an easy set of information to recall. The last four pole-sitters for the “Great American Race” have turned out to be the best possible story you could have written each season.
The pole also makes Elliott and his father Bill Elliott the fourth father-son combo to be Daytona 500 pole winners.
Elliott replaced Gordon in the No. 24 after his retirement at the end of 2015. But at the beginning of the last season, Gordon grabbed the pole in his final Daytona 500 start. It was only his second “500” pole of his career. Gordon would go on to lead 87 laps and finished 33rd after an accident on the final lap.
Then in 2014, the pole was won by car with a number that hadn’t been seen in the Sprint Cup Series since 2001. Austin Dillon, grandson to Richard Childress, helped bring back the No. 3 to the Cup level for the first time since Dale Earnhardt Sr. died on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.
Dillon would only lead the first lap before finishing ninth, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned the win. It remains Dillon’s only Sprint Cup pole.
The four years of memorable Daytona 500 poles began in 2013 with another rookie – Danica Patrick.
After a year spent in the Xfinity Series, Patrick went full-time in the Sprint Cup Series in 2013 with Stewart-Haas Racing. She started her rookie campaign by earning her first and – just like Dillon – so far only Sprint Cup pole.
Patrick led five laps that afternoon and was a constant presence in the top 10 before finishing eighth. Jimmie Johnson would claim his second Daytona 500 win.