It’ll be an all Hendrick Motorsports front row when the field goes green for the 63rd annual Daytona 500 on Sunday. Alex Bowman scored the pole by posting a 47.056 / 191.261 mph. while his Hendrick Motorsports counterpart William Byron trailed by 0.258 seconds.
“It doesn’t really have a lot to do with me; it’s a testament to these guys and everybody back at the shop at Hendrick Motorsports,” said Bowman. “They work so hard on these superspeedway cars. They’re beautiful when they get to the race track. Our Ally Camaro has been really fast since we unloaded and they focused a lot on trying to get the pole for the Daytona 500. It means a lot to us and we were able to achieve that.”
“For the Daytona 500 for us it’s a marquee race that you want to get the pole,” said Bowman’s crew chief Greg Ives. “There’s obviously a special reason why first and second are locked into the race and don’t have to — I wouldn’t say necessarily worry about the 150s, but you have your starting spot, you understand where your pit stall is going to be, you can kind of perfect and get a calm and understanding of where you have to get in the box, get out, and maybe that tenth of a mile per hour better down pit road is going to help you come out first.
Ives attributed former crew chief Chad Kanus in his post-qualifying media availability, saying he's the crew chief he is today because of his mentorship.
“Chad has made me the crew chief I am today, so I owe a lot — I wouldn’t be sitting here without — I don’t know what else to say. I wouldn’t be sitting here without his mentorship.”
Bowman, who scored the Daytona 500 pole back in 2018, will make his fourth front-row start in the race. As for his teammate William Byron, winner of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona last August, it’ll mark his second front row start in the event.
“I feel like it's always -- Hendrick always gives us great cars to come down here and qualify well and also race well, so you never know which guys are going to have the speed out of the four of us,” said Byron. “To see how we approached the weeks leading up to this race and how we were really determined to go out there and start off strong with obviously the Clash last night, finishing fifth was great for us, good solid start, but our goal today was to go out there and try to qualify on the front row. It's nice to be able to kind of check that off. And great to see both Alex and I - the 48 team and the 24 team - both up there.”
Drivers Ryan Preece and David Ragan locked into the race by being the two fastest open cars in the session. Preece slotted in eighth while Ragan sat 13th on the scoring pylon. The two drivers can improve their starting position depending on where they finish in the Duel 150s on Thursday night.
“I knew we would have speed in our No. 37 Cottonelle Chevrolet, but I am really proud of the effort that everyone at JTG Daugherty Racing organization put in to get our car as fast as it is and qualify on speed into the DAYTONA 500,” said Preece. “We ran some solid laps in practice today and I think that prepared me for tonight and to put down one solid lap to qualify us in to the race on Sunday. We’re also racing in the same duel as our teammate, and it’ll be good to practice drafting with them tomorrow night.”
“It’s always fun to come to Daytona. For a majority of my career I’ve always been locked in and I have really taken qualifying for granted," said Ragan. "I’ve wanted to qualify well and perform well on Thursdays, but I was always thinking about Sunday. For I guess the second time in my career here at Daytona trying to race our way in with some pretty tough competition, I’ve really thought a lot about this qualifying tonight, the Duels on Thursday night, and I’m certainly not taking it for granted to be here in a Cup car at Daytona, the birthplace of NASCAR and something my family has been part of for a long time. I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to come here and I hope that we can make it into the Daytona 500. That would be outstanding.”
Remaining open cars that did not lock in:
Noah Gragson (NO TIME)
Aric Almirola, Wednesday’s practice leader Bubba Wallace, and Ricky Stenhouse rounded out the top five. Kevin Harvick, Christopher Bell, Ryan Preece, Austin Dillon, and Daniel Suarez sat top 10.
Other Hendrick Motorsports drivers of Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson sat 11th and 15th in the session, respectively.
Noah Gragson’s No. 62 failed pre-qualifying inspection three times and wasn’t allowed to post a lap. The Las Vegas driver will lose a crew member as a result and start their respective Duel 150 race at the rear of the field.
The No. 15 Jacob Companies Chevrolet of Derrike Cope wouldn’t fire and was placed on the five-minute clock. They ultimately weren’t able to fire the engine in the time given.
Odd-numbered qualifying positions will race in Duel No. 1 while the even-numbered positions will start in Duel No. 2.
The first of two Duel 150 races will begin at 7:00 p.m. ET. live on FS1 and MRN Radio. Live in Canada? You can catch both Duel 150’s live on TSN.