DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Daytona Speedweeks are underway, and so far, they’ve have had a decidedly Hendrick Motorsports flavor.
On Sunday, Hendrick Motorsports became the first organization in history to qualify one-two-three-four for the Daytona 500, with William Byron and Alex Bowman sweeping the front row to start “The Great American Race.”
A few hours later, Jimmie Johnson made the first trip to Victory Lane of the season with a win in The Clash.
“It's been a pretty awesome day,” Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said. “It's just unbelievable to have the four cars qualify like that, and then to have Jimmie win the Clash.”
It was the organization's seventh Clash win – and first since 2008.
Notably, it also extended the organization’s streak to seven consecutive Speedweeks with at least one win, the longest active streak in the NASCAR Cup Series.
That streak began with back-to-back Daytona 500 wins in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, Hendrick Motorsports drivers won both Duel races, and one Duel win was earned in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Between Johnson’s Clash win and Byron capturing Chevrolet’s milestone 700th NASCAR Cup Series pole, it made for a memorable start to Speedweeks for the organization.
“It feels good to see (No. 48 team crew chief) Kevin Meendering) and Jimmie have success today, and it feels good to see William and (No. 24 team crew chief) Chad (Knaus),” Hendrick said. “It's been a really good day for our team.”
The big prize awaits next Sunday, Feb. 17, when the Daytona 500 gets underway at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX. It makes for an unusual set of circumstances where the pole-sitter gets to relish in the moment for a full week before the actual green flag waves.
That sits just fine with Hendrick.
“It’s no secret we didn't have the year we wanted last year,” the owner said. “So, coming out of the gate, no matter what happens, we get to celebrate this for a week.”
And there was plenty to celebrate for the organization, which has now won the Daytona 500 pole in a record five consecutive seasons.
“When you look at what happened for Hendrick Motorsports today and also Chevrolet,” Johnson said, “just an epic day across the board.”