Alex Bowman won the pole for the 60th running of the Daytona 500.
Bowman’s lap in the second round of the day’s qualifying session of 195.644 mph to earn his first pole in “The Great American Race.”
It was the Hendrick Motorsports driver’s second career pole, the first coming in 2016 at Phoenix when he was filling in for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr. Bowman is driving the No. 88 ride full-time beginning this season in the aftermath of Earnhardt Jr.’s retirement.
“Just so thankful to do this,” Bowman said. “I’m very blessed to be able to call driving a race car my job and to be able to drive what I think is the best car in the business is a dream come true.
“It was a little nerve-wracking. You know, our Nationwide Camaro ZL1 has been great since we unloaded. All the guys back at the chassis shop, the body shop, the Hendrick engine shop, they all work so hard. We knew were going for the pole. That’s what we were here to do.”
Bowman topped the first round and was the last of the 12 drivers to run for the pole in round two.
“I was a little nervous for that second round, but it took off well off of pit road and I did everything I could do,” he said. “This really comes down to the crew, all the guys back at the shop, everybody works so hard at these speedway cars.”
Team owner Rick Hendrick tied Harry Ranier (1979-82) for the record for most consecutive Daytona 500 poles. Hendrick has won seven of the last 11 Daytona 500 poles.
Denny Hamlin qualified second in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and he and Bowman are locked into the top two starting spots for next Sunday’s Daytona 500.
“Great teamwork,” Hamlin said after his lap of 195.092 mph. “This is a testament to everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing to give us a race car that is very fast.
“It was so out of the blue because honestly I thought today was going to be a tough day of qualifying because we focused so much on race trim yesterday. We stuck in a pack. I think we did one real mock run, which really wasn’t even a mock run. We were so far off that we just switched and made sure our car was going to run really good on Thursday and obviously next Sunday. This car is ready to race.”
The remainder of the starting line-up behind the front row for next week’s 500 will be determined by the finishing positions in Thursday’s Can-Am Duel races.
Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and William Byron rounded out the top five.
Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, Kevin Harvick, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., and Chase Elliott completed the fastest ten on Sunday.