Byron, Bowman sweep Daytona 500 front row in qualifying
BY GRAY CALDWELL
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Sunday afternoon’s Daytona 500 qualifying brought a clean sweep for Hendrick Motorsports.
For a record fifth consecutive Daytona 500, a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet will lead the field to the green flag. And for a sixth time, the organization has swept the top two starting spots for “The Great American Race.”
William Byron became the second-youngest Daytona 500 pole-winner in history – behind only his teammate, Elliott – on Sunday and clinched Chevrolet’s milestone 700th NASCAR Cup Series pole position in the process.
“The Axalta Chevy was really fast,” Byron said. “Credit to (No. 24 team crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and all the guys – it’s been a great offseason. We’re prepared. We’re ready. This is kind of the first step of our process together.”
He was joined on the front row by last year’s Daytona 500 pole-winner, Alex Bowman, giving Hendrick Motorsports’ its first Daytona 500 qualifying front-row sweep since 2015. Byron and Bowman's combined age of 46 makes it the youngest Daytona 500 front row in history.
In fact, Byron, Bowman, Jimmie Johnson and Elliott qualified first, second, third and fourth, respectively. It marks the first time in history that one team’s drivers have earned each of the top four spots in Daytona 500 qualifying.
“It’s a tribute to our organization, the engine shop, the chassis and body shops and the teams to come down here and run with four cars running that good,” Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said. “I can’t believe it. Congratulations to Chevy for their 700th pole and our fifth in a row down here.”
Hendrick Motorsports owns a record 13 Daytona 500 poles – seven more than second place – including eight of the last 12. The organization has won the pole in 36 percent of the Daytona 500s in which it has competed.
Though the teammates qualified first through fourth, only Byron and Bowman’s positions are set for next Sunday’s race. The rest of the starting grid, including Johnson and Elliott’s spots, will be determined through Thursday’s 150-mile Duels at Daytona International Speedway.
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