DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – For the fourth consecutive year, a Hendrick Motorsports driver will lead the Daytona 500 field to the green flag.
After all four Hendrick Motorsports teammates advanced to the final round in Sunday afternoon’s Daytona 500 qualifying, Alex Bowman captured the pole position in the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 with a lap time of 46.002 – 0.13 seconds faster than the outside pole sitter, Denny Hamlin.
He becomes the third-youngest pole winner in Daytona 500 history.
“Our Nationwide Camaro ZL1 has just been great since we unloaded,” Bowman said. “All the guys back at the chassis shop, body shop, the Hendrick engine shop is top-notch. They all work so hard and we knew we were going for the pole – that’s what we were here to do.”
And that’s exactly what Bowman and the No. 88 team did, a feat that the driver was quick to credit to the months of preparation by the men and women back on Hendrick Motorsports’ Concord, North Carolina, campus.
“I just get to hold the steering wheel,” he smiled. “Just means the world to have Nationwide’s support and to be able to put it on the pole.”
It was Bowman’s second pole in his last three NASCAR Cup Series races, and the No. 88 car has now won the last three pole positions at restrictor plate tracks.
The accomplishment also extended Hendrick Motorsports’ all-time record to 12 Daytona 500 poles, giving the organization 20 percent of Daytona 500 poles all-time.
“He is just so much fun and has so much talent, it’s just an exciting year for us,” Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said of Bowman. “I couldn’t be happier to see that No. 88 on the pole and be here with the new Camaro ZL1s and all our cars in the top 10. So, it was a good day.”
To Hendrick’s point, all three of Bowman’s teammates qualified inside the top 10, led by Jimmie Johnson in third place – narrowly missing a front-row start. William Byron was next with a fifth-place qualifying effort, and Chase Elliott qualified 10th after earning the Daytona 500 pole in each of the past two seasons.
While the front row is set, the rest of the Daytona 500 field – including Johnson, Byron and Elliott’s starting spots – will be determined by Thursday's 150-mile Duels at Daytona International Speedway.