CONCORD, N.C. – On Sunday, the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season begins with a double-header of on-track action.
First comes Daytona 500 qualifying at 12:10 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Hendrick Motorsports holds the all-time record for most Daytona 500 pole positions with 12, six ahead of second place. A Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has won the pole in seven of the last 11 Daytona 500 races, including the last four, which is tied for the longest streak all-time.
That streak began with Jeff Gordon’s pole in 2015, when Jimmie Johnson started the race on the outside pole to give Hendrick Motorsports its fifth sweep of the top two starting spots in “The Great American Race.”
It continued with back-to-back Daytona 500 pole positions earned by Chase Elliott in 2016 and 2017. Elliott is the youngest Daytona 500 pole-winner of all time, as no other driver under the age of 23 has won a single pole position for the Daytona 500.
Last year, Alex Bowman secured the top spot for the season-opening event, becoming the third-youngest pole winner in Daytona 500 history and putting the organization in a tie for the all-time record with four consecutive poles in “The Great American Race.”
“It was important for my Hendrick Motorsports team to start off strong in Daytona last season,” Bowman said. “We had the new Camaro ZL1 body and it was great putting that brand-new car for Chevrolet on the front row for the Daytona 500.”
A pole win this Sunday would give the organization a new record streak of five and would also mark Chevrolet’s milestone 700th NASCAR Cup Series pole.
No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson could also set a new record, as he is tied with Leonard Wood and Waddell Wilson for the most Daytona 500 pole awards all-time for a crew chief with four.
Hendrick Motorsports has won 20 percent of the Daytona 500 poles all-time and has won the pole in 34 percent of the Daytona 500s in which it has competed.
After qualifying, Sunday’s on-track activity will proceed to The Clash, an exhibition event that will feature Elliott, Johnson and Bowman among its entrants. It begins at 3 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
The field is made up of 2018 pole award winners and playoff contenders as well as former Clash winners, former Daytona 500 champions and former Daytona 500 pole winners who competed full-time in 2018.
Four different Hendrick Motorsports drivers have combined to win The Clash on six occasions: Ken Schrader (1989, 1990), Gordon (1994, 1997), Johnson (2005) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2008).
This year’s format of the annual exhibition race sees the 75-lap Clash split into two segments separated by a competition caution at Lap 25.
“I think it's definitely a good tune-up, especially for the guys that didn't get selected to test throughout the offseason,” Elliott said of The Clash. “It will be nice to get in a race and make sure everything looks right and feels right, and those cars are really similar to one another usually from The Clash to the 500. So, I'm sure there are things to learn.”
In each of the last three seasons, Elliott has won at least one race during Daytona Speedweeks – the longest active streak. After victories in the 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Daytona and back-to-back Duel wins in 2017 and 2018, Sunday’s Clash provides the first opportunity to extend that streak.
As an organization, Hendrick Motorsports has won at least one race during Daytona Speedweeks in each of the last six years, which marks the longest active streak in the Cup Series. In 2013 and 2014, the organization captured back-to-back Daytona 500s. In 2015, Hendrick Motorsports drivers won both Duel races, and one Duel win has been earned in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Hendrick Motorsports is the only repeat Daytona 500-winning organization in the last nine runnings of "The Great American Race."
“Hendrick Motorsports has a reputation for being pretty good on these tracks,” Bowman said, “so I am excited to see how we unload this weekend and how we qualify and race The Clash.”