AVONDALE, Ariz. -- In his return to his home state of Arizona, Alex Bowman earned the first pole position of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career.
Friday night at Phoenix International Raceway, Bowman posted the fastest time in the final round of qualifying, earning the top spot for Sunday's race.
"To get to drive for Hendrick Motorsports has been such a blessing," Bowman said. "Just really thankful to have Nationwide Insurance on board. We've got Dalton (Miller), a Nationwide Patient Champion on the door of the car. So, really excited about that. Just very thankful to be here."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was right there to celebrate with Bowman when he climbed out of the car.
"Alex has really, really helped our program," Earnhardt said. "This is his hometown, kind of, so it's awesome -- all his friends are around to see him do this. This is great for his career. This is exactly what we were hoping would happen for him. Hopefully he can put it together on Sunday."
Chase Elliott also advanced to the final round and nearly gave Hendrick Motorsports a sweep of the front row before settling for a third-place starting position.
Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson advanced to the second round but did not make it to the finals.
Kahne narrowly missed the cutoff and will start Sunday's race from the 13th position.
"For qualifying, I had a great Farmers Insurance Chevy right there," he said. "My car feels great."
Johnson will round out the Hendrick Motorsports teammates with a 17th-place start.
"Just missed it on balance," Johnson said. "Qualifying has never been my strong suit. I'm always better about racing, and I'm looking forward to 300-some laps on Sunday afternoon."