DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Another year, another Daytona 500 pole for a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
Alex Bowman was fastest in Wednesday’s pole qualifying with a blazing speed of 191.261, and will lead the field to green for Sunday’s 63rd Daytona 500. Hendrick teammate William Byron, who started on the pole in 2019, will start second.
“It doesn’t have whole lot to do with me,” Bowman said. “This is a testament to the guys back at the shop. This Chevy Camaro has been fast since we unloaded, and we were focused on winning this pole.”
This will be the fourth straight front-row start for Bowman in the 500, and second career pole. He also led the field to green in 2018.
Prior to Wednesday night, Bowman was tied with Richard Petty, Fireball Roberts, Dale Earnhardt and Bill Elliott for the most consecutive Daytona 500 front row starts (3).
Bowman is taking over the ride that belonged to seven-time Cup Series champ Jimmie Johnson, who retired at the end of last season.
“This feels really good,” he said. “It’s awesome to be driving this No. 48 car.”
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This is the 14th career pole for Hendrick Motorsports, and first since Byron won in 2019.
A Hendrick car started on the pole in five straight 500s (2015-2019) until Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led the field to green last season.
Stenhouse’s No. 47 JTG Daugherty Chevy was, however, using a Hendrick Motorsports engine.
Byron’s speed of 190.219 was atop the leaderboard most of the night, until Bowman put down his fast lap toward the end of qualifying. Byron scored his first career Cup win at Daytona last summer in the season-finale.
“That definitely gives me more confidence,” he said. “Hendrick always gives us great cars to come down here with that qualify and race well. It’s nice to be able to check this off.
“In the past, it’s been great to start up front here … it’s a really cool feeling. There was nothing like in 2019 when I started on the front row. I was speechless, and a little nervous”
Aric Almirola’s Ford was third on the charts, followed by Bubba Wallace and Stenhouse Jr. Those two will start on the front row in their respective Duel races on Thursday.
“Everything is shaping up to be a great ending for us,” said Wallace, who is in his first season with the newly-formed Michael Jordan/Denny Hamlin No. 23XI Racing team.
“We just have to get through it. I had this same feeling in 2018 for my first 500. The speed was there. Everything is clicking.”
Hamlin and Chase Elliott were 11th-fastest on Wednesday with an identical speed of 188.699.
“Beat the boss,” Wallace said with a laugh.
Of the eight non-chartered entries, Ryan Preece (eighth) and former Daytona winner David Ragan (13th) locked themselves into the Daytona 500.
The other six — Kaz Grala, Austin Cindric, Ty Dillon, Garrett Smithley, Timmy Hill and Noah Gragson — will race for the final two 500 spots Thursday.