Bill Elliott picked up today where he left off last year, gaining the pole position for the Daytona 500 with a fast lap of 205.039 mph.

His Ford Thunderbird will share the front row with the Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS of Geoff Bodine, who was just behind at 204.545.

Elliott, who won both the pole and the race a year ago to begin a season in which he dominated the speedways with 11 poles and 11 victories, just missed his own track qualifying record of 205.114.

A total of 24 drivers qualified today at over 200 mph, but the speeds were not as high as had been forecast before the first round of qualifying was postponed by rain on Saturday.

"It was a combination of things," said Elliott, who was suffering from the flu. "The wind was pretty bad out there. It seemed like it really upset the car in (turns) three and four. And the track is another year older, and it seems like it's slicker than it ever has been.

"You're going to have to be handling just perfect to do well in the race," he added.

Sterlin Marlin was the biggest surprise among the 54 drivers who made at least one of the two qualifying laps today.

Marlin, the 1983 Rookie of the Year, driving this year for owner Hoss Ellington, was the third-fastest qualifier at 204.355.