DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Sunday at Daytona International Speedway was an exciting one.
From running the postponed season-opening exhibition race, The Clash, to sweeping the 2017 Daytona 500 front row in qualifying, here's a look at what we learned this past weekend.
FIFTH DAYTONA 500 FRONT ROW SWEEP
For the fifth time in the organization's history, Hendrick Motorsports swept the front row of the Daytona 500 in Sunday's single-car qualifying session.
Chase Elliott claimed his second consecutive pole for "The Great American Race" with a fast lap of 46.663-seconds around the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
"It is awesome," Elliott said of the accomplishment. "I am just really proud of everybody at our shop -- the engine shop, the chassis shop, Hendrick Motorsports as a whole and the No. 24 team for sure. I appreciate all of their hard work.”
Just two-thousandths of a second behind Elliott was his teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who will share the front row with him in second.
“We sure would have liked to have gotten a pole, but happy my teammate Chase got the pole," Earnhardt said. "Congratulations to the No. 24 guys. They just certainly know how to get the job done at these plate tracks for sure. It will make (Hendrick Motorsports owner) Rick (Hendrick) happy to have all of the front row, an all-Hendrick Motorsports front row.”
SOLID QUALIFYING EFFORTS
Kasey Kahne joined Elliott and Earnhardt in the final round of qualifying Sunday, ending the day with an eighth-place result. His Daytona 500 starting position, however, will be determined by the result of Thursday's 150-mile Duels at Daytona International Speedway.
“Qualifying went really well yesterday and today," Kahne said Sunday. "I thought the guys brought a great car down here and look forward to the duels to see how the handling is. Obviously, handling was a big deal in The Clash. The night race won’t be as crucial, but it is something we need to be aware of and start thinking a lot about.”
Jimmie Johnson also had a strong run in the first qualifying session, narrowly missing the final round by finishing 14th.
“Decent -- I mean that is kind of on par with where we were yesterday in single-car runs," Johnson said. "Great to see the speed out of the No. 24, maybe we can learn something from that. Certainly, learned some lessons in The Clash earlier and the way we were trying to generate speed. Live and learn and we will get smarter and race better on Thursday and race even better on Sunday.”
TOP-THREE CLASH FINISH
Earning his eligibility for the non-points race by winning the pole at Phoenix last November, Alex Bowman was given the opportunity to drive Earnhardt's No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS in Sunday's The Clash.
The driver gave a strong performance during the 75-lap race, crossing the finish line in third.
"It's been such an honor to drive this 88 car for Mr. Hendrick and Dale Jr.," Bowman said. "It's been so much fun. I feel like this race team is kind of some of my best friends. It's definitely kind of like a bittersweet feeling. I don't really know what I have going forward, and I only know of one race for sure that I'm going to run, and it's not a Cup race this year."
While his driving schedule remains uncertain for 2017, there's one thing he's certain about: Earnhardt back in the No. 88 Chevy this season will be a welcome sight.
"It's really cool to see Dale feeling better and Dale coming back for the 500," Bowman said. "He's definitely going to be my pick to be up front all day on Sunday."