DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — New number, new day, new time, same result for Hendrick Motorsports.
Alex Bowman and William Byron swept the front row Wednesday night in qualifying for the Daytona 500, giving Hendrick its 14th pole and sixth in the last seven years. Rick Hendrick's engine-building wing has seven straight poles because it powers Ricky Stenhouse Jr., last year's pole-winner.
“I think it means a lot to Mr. H — he wants to win everything, like every category, he wants to be top of the list,” Bowman said. “Here it really just comes down to who built the fastest race car. And I think it’s important for Hendrick Motorsports to come up and prove that they’re the ones that did that.”
Bowman posted a lap at 191.261 mph to earn the top starting spot for the second time in his career. It’s the fourth consecutive year Bowman will start from the front row, but he's got a completely new look this time.
Bowman in the offseason was moved from the No. 88 into the No. 48 vacated by seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson. He inherited sponsor Ally, which has committed to backing Bowman and helping him develop his brand.
“It's really hard to sit here and be like, ‘I did it and I did this and that and that’s why we are on the front row for four consecutive years,'” Bowman said. “It's more about the people that make it happen. I floored it, but I'm pretty sure everybody else did, too. I'm just appreciative to have a fast car.”
Greg Ives, Bowman's crew chief, has put one of his cars on the front row for five consecutive years dating to Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2017. Ives has never had a car start lower than third since he became a Cup crew chief in 2015.
“We put a lot of time and effort into our speedway program. It’s a show car. It’s the pinnacle of the hotrods that we bring out of our race shop,” Ives said. “There’s a lot of pride in every piece, every car, just from the paint job all the way down to the last nut and bolt.”
Bowman drove his Chevrolet more than 1 mph faster than teammate Byron, who qualified second with a lap at 190.219 mph. Only the front row was set Wednesday, the first time Daytona 500 qualifying has been held at night under a condensed Speedweeks schedule.
“Hendrick always gives us great cars to come down here and qualify well and also race well, so you never know which guys are going to have the speed out of the four of us,” Byron said of the four-car Hendrick stable. Chase Elliott was 11th and Kyle Larson 15th to complete Hendrick's lineup.
It's the ninth consecutive year Chevrolet won the pole.
To read Jenna Fryer's complete story, click here.