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Dawsonvilles Chase Elliott ready for the 500
Wins pole position
3 Chase Elliott pic
Dawsonvilles Chase Elliott qualified on the pole for Saturdays Daytona 500. He became the youngest driver in history to qualify first.

2016 Sprint Cup schedule

Feb. 18 Can-Am Duel at Daytona

Feb. 21 Daytona

Feb. 28 Atlanta

March 6 Las Vegas

March 13 Phoenix

March 20 Auto Club

April 3 Martinsville

April 9 Texas

April 17 Bristol

April 24 Richmond

May 1 Talladega

May 7 Kansas

May 15 Dover

May 21 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race

May 29 Charlotte

June 5 Pocono

June 12 Michigan

June 26 Sonoma

July 2 Daytona

July 9 Kentucky

July 17 New Hampshire

July 24 Indianapolis

July 31 Pocono

Aug. 7 Watkins Glen

Aug. 20 Bristol

Aug. 28 Michigan

Sept. 4 Darlington

Sept. 10 Richmond

Sept. 18 Chicagoland

Sept. 25 New Hampshire

Oct. 2 Dover

Oct. 8 Charlotte

Oct. 16 Kansas

Oct. 23 Talladega

Oct. 30 Martinsville

Nov. 6 Texas

Nov. 13 Phoenix

Nov. 20 Homestead-Miami


Chase Elliott was trying to believe his lifelong dream of being a Sprint Cup driver was finally coming true when reality became even more unbelievable.

Dawsonville's Elliott became the youngest Daytona 500 pole-winner of all time on Sunday.

Entering his first season as a full time driver in NASCAR's elite series, the 20-year-old is trying to let the accomplishment sink in.

"This is a very, very cool day," Elliott said. "I don't know that this opportunity has sunk in yet, much less sitting on the pole for the Daytona 500. So this is very, very cool."

The new face of Jeff Gordon's iconic No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports machine gave credit to his entire team.

"It's nothing special I did, it's really just what kind of work they did this offseason to make it happen," he said of driving his NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet SS faster than any other driver in the final round of Sunday's Daytona 500 qualifying, securing the pole position for next Sunday's Great American Race.

It was a single-car qualifying format, with the top 12 drivers advancing to the second and final round of the session.

Owner Rick Hendrick and his teammates recently spoke about what fans expect to see in the upcoming season.

"He's the whole package. He fits in our organization so well. He's got so much respect for the other guys," Hendrick said in a release.

His teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he understands the feelings the rookie driver is having going into the season.

"It's a dream for him to be able to make it to the Cup series, to be able to race cup cars like his father and eventually get that first win," he said in a release. "That feeling that you're a winner at that level is an amazing feeling that's he's going to enjoy, and I'm excited for him."

Teammate Kasey Kahne said fans can expect to see Elliott perform as well as he did in the Nationwide Series, where he won the championship in his first year of contention and scored a runner-up position last year, just 15 points behind champion Chris Beuscher.

"He's going to have a great season. He's going to be good at Daytona, too. His car's going to be superfast," he said.

The Sprint Cup season kicked off Feb. 13 with the non-points Sprint Unlimited race at Daytona International Speedway. The Can-Am Duels follow on Feb. 18.

The Daytona 500 will be aired at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 21 on FOX.

Staff writer Amy French contributed to this story.