Chase Elliott wins pole for Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona

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Chase Elliott will start first in Saturday night’s Cup race at Daytona International Speedway (7 p.m. ET on NBC).

The Hendrick Motorsports driver claimed his fourth career pole (all on restrictor-plate tracks) with a lap at 194.045 mph.

Three of Elliott’s poles have been at Daytona. He is the first driver to score his first four career poles on restrictor-plate tracks.

Elliott is joined on the front row by teammate Alex Bowman (193.046 mph), who had the pole for February’s Daytona 500.

The top five was rounded out by Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick. Johnson’s starting spot is his best of the season.

“Our Hooters Chevy has been nice all weekend, we made a couple of changes at the end of that last practice before the rain and made it go a little faster,” Elliott told NBCSN. “I hope that translates to a good driving car tomorrow night. Obviously a lot of speed in our Chevrolets. I’ve said this before, but we put a lot of effort into our speedway program at Hendrick Motorsports. … We take a lot of pride in coming to these races. They pay the same amount of points as the rest of them, so it matters.”

Elliott has started in the first two rows in five of his six Daytona starts.

Elliott’s pole is Hendrick Motorsports’ 10th at a restrictor-plate track since 2015. Six have come at Daytona and four at Talladega.

Michael McDowell qualified eighth for his best starting position this season and his second start inside the top 10.

No Toyota drivers qualified in top 12 for the first time since last fall’s Talladega race.

Timothy Peters is the only driver who failed to qualify.

Click here for qualifying results.

Updated entry lists for NASCAR at Daytona International Speedway

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NASCAR makes its second visit to Daytona International Speedway this weekend with the Cup and Xfinity Series.

Cup teams will hold the Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Saturday and the Xfinity Series precedes them Friday night.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for both races.

Cup – Coke Zero Sugar 400 (7 p.m. ET on Saturday on NBC)

There are 41 entries for the race. One car will not make the race.

Timothy Peters is entered in the No. 92 Ford owned by Ricky Benton Racing. It would be his second career Cup start.

Joey Gase is entered in StarCom Racing’s No. 00 Chevrolet. Landon Cassill is in the team’s No. 99 Chevrolet.

Brendan Gaughan is entered in Beard Motorsports’ No. 62 Chevrolet.

Ray Black Jr. is entered in Rick Ware Racing’s No. 51 Ford. It would be Black’s fourth career Cup start and his first this season.

JJ Yeley is listed in the No. 23 for BK Racing. Gray Gaulding had run every race for the team this season.

Last year Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won this race over Clint Bowyer and Paul Menard. In February, Austin Dillon won the Daytona 500 over Bubba Wallace and Denny Hamlin.

Click here for the entry list.

Xfinity – Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 (7:30 p.m. ET on Friday on NBCSN)

There are 41 cars entered for the race, meaning one team will not qualifying.

Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson are the only full-time Cup drivers entered.

Ryan Preece is entered in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota. Preece has not competed since his win at Bristol on April 14.

William Byron won this race last year over Elliott Sadler and Dakoda Armstrong. Tyler Reddick won at Daytona in February over Sadler in the closest finish in national NASCAR history.

Click here for the entry list.

Kevin Harvick wins pole for GEICO 500 at Talladega

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Kevin Harvick will start first in Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway after winning his first pole of the year.

Harvick earned the pole with a speed of 194.448 mph. It is Harvick’s third pole at a restrictor-plate track and his first since 2005 (Talladega). It’s Stewart-Haas Racing’s first pole at Talladega.

Harvick has now won at least one pole in each of the last six years.

The top five is completed by Kurt Busch (194.082 mph), Martin Truex Jr. (193.525), Denny Hamlin (192.936) and Chase Elliott (192.754).

Elliott has started in the top 10 in all five of his Talladega starts

Paul Menard qualified 13th and was followed by Daniel Suarez, Darrell Wallace Jr., Jimmie Johnson and William Byron.

Kyle Busch, who is trying to win his fourth consecutive race, qualified 19th.

Timothy Peters will start 32nd in his Cup debut.

Aric Almirola will start last after his N0. 10 Ford spun following the conclusion of a very slow qualifying attempt in Round 1. It isn’t clear what caused Almirola’s issues.

Click here for qualifying results.

Preliminary entry lists for Cup, Xfinity at Talladega

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Forty cars are entered for Sunday’s Geico 500 Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Joey Gase will be in the No. 00 car for StarCom Racing.

Brendan Gaughan is back in the No. 62 this weekend for Beard Motorsports.

Timothy Peters is set to make his Cup debut in the No. 92 for RBR Enterprises.

Cole Custer is listed in the No. 51 car for Rick Ware Racing but a team spokesperson told NBC Sports that Custer will not be driving the car.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won this race a year ago in overtime, beating Jamie McMurray and Kyle Busch.

Click here for Cup entry list

Xfinity Series

There are 41 cars entered for the Sparks Energy 300 Xfinity race.

The race is a Dash 4 Cash event, so no drivers who earn points in the Cup Series are permitted to race in this event.

Noah Gragson, who finished second in his series debut last weekend at Richmond, is back in the No. 18 for Joe Gibbs Racing this weekend.

Shane Lee, who finished 14th in his series debut two weeks ago at Bristol, is back in the No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing.

Aric Almirola won this race a year ago, finishing ahead of Elliott Sadler and Joey Logano.

Click here for Xfinity entry list

Daniel Hemric ‘making the most’ of first Cup start at Richmond

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Daniel Hemric made the rounds this week.

Hemric “talked to just about every car owner” he raced for in the last 22 years to thank them.

Without them, he wouldn’t be making his Cup debut tonight at Richmond Raceway.

The 27-year-old driver will start 22nd in Richard Childress Racing’s No. 8 Chevrolet. It caps a busy weekend as Hemric pulled double duty with his regular job driving the No. 21 for RCR in the Xfinity Series.

“I have a newfound respect for those guys who do double duty every week,” Hemric said Friday in the midst of a day filled with four practice sessions, two qualifying sessions and the Xfinity race, where he finished 29th following tire problems. “It’s been a lot to take in. It’s been a good time and a great problem to have trying to figure out how to get from one place to the next in the manner that you need to.”

Before qualifying, Hemric was 23rd fastest in the first practice session. He improved to eighth best in final practice.

The busy pace helped Hemric stay focused in his preparation for the most important race of his career so far.

“I think between getting in the Xfinity car and having time on the race track, and then just running straight over and getting in the Cup car has made the transition as easy as possible,” Hemric said Friday. “Think that’s helped to calm the nerves and staying busy has kept all that stuff kind of in-check as well. … It’s been a lot going on but it’s been fun.”

Hemric would consider it a “home run” if he ended the 400-lap race in the top 20.

“I think if we can do that as a group with only being a one-off race right here, obviously knowing we’re going to come back at it in the fall at (the Charlotte) road course, but it’s tough to do,” Hemric said. “It’s tough to bring guys out of the shop and know what the expectations are. That’s why I say we’ve got to take it a step at a time. That’s what we’ve done do far.”

Hemric is somewhat an oddity in modern NASCAR as he makes his first Cup start at the age of 27. He enters tonight’s race with 90 combined starts in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series. He’s yet to win in either national series.

Despite not winning last year, he made it to the championship four last year in the Xfinity Series.

Cup driver Kyle Busch believes Hemric is “ready for the opportunity.”

“I think he’s done a really good job,” Busch said. “Maybe not has scored as many wins as he would have wanted to in Truck of Xfinity competition, but I think talent pool wise, I’ve seen him race in late models and I’ve seen what he can do in those things and he’s made a name for himself in being able to come up through these ranks and hasn’t caused chaos while doing it. He’s done it really, really clean. He’s raced his competitors as well as you can ask of anybody to race their competitors. I think the only thing lacking is just the win column, so I think Daniel is a great kid and look forward to seeing what he can do at the next level.”

Hemric said if he’d been asked two or three years if he would be about to make his Cup debut, he would have replied, “there ain’t no way.”

Hemric continued, “I’m going to continue to get older and I’m not sure how to put myself in any other better position than just making the most of that opportunity. … At the end of the day, nobody knows your story better than you know it.”

Hemric’s story includes one his RCR mechanics and former Legends racing owner selling his own Ford Mustang in order to keep his racing career going just before Hemric turned 15.

Hemric isn’t the only older driver getting their due this season. Last week, 27-year-old Ryan Preece won his second Xfinity race at Bristol. Next week, 37-year-old Timothy Peters will make his Cup debut after years of competing in the Truck Series.

“I saw where Jeff Burton told Ryan Preece last week that he won his first Cup race at 30 years old, so that gave me a little bit more confidence that I was on the right path,” Hemric said. “I never had a path or an age set for whenever I wanted to get there. I’ve just been fortunate to be able to continue that uphill climb and I know the trend is 17 or 18 years old; you’ve got to be in the top three series and doing it full-time. But I’m just doing it the way it’s provided to me and just trying to make the most of it.”

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