William Byron captured his first career pole in qualifying for the Daytona 500 to lead a Hendrick Motorsports charge of the four fastest cars.
The pole was the fifth consecutive in “The Great American Race” for Hendrick Motorsports and the 700th for Chevrolet. The pole also comes in Byron’s first race with new crew chief Chad Knaus, who led Jimmie Johnson to his first career pole when they took the top spot for the 2002 Daytona 500.
“I thought the Chevy was real fast,” Byron said. “Credit to Chad and all the guys. It’s been a great off-season. We’re prepared. This is the first step of our process together.”
Byron’s lap of 194.305 mph was the one that earned him the top spot for next Sunday’s 61st running of the Daytona 500.
“We felt we were prepared and ready and this was sort of the first step of our process together,” Byron said. “Hopefully, it goes well next Sunday. We can kind of hang out during the Duel races, learn a little bit.
Alex Bowman, last year’s pole winner, will start outside the front row.
“You know a driver can’t really do much,” Bowman said. “It’s all car and crew, so very proud of these guys, the Hendrick engine shop and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. They do a great job. It’s neat. Really cool to have a fast race car down here.”
Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott make up the second row as part of the Hendrick top four sweep.
Rookie Daniel Hemric rounded out the top five.
Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski and Austin Dillon completed the first 10 qualifiers.
Tyler Reddick and Casey Mears locked themselves in the Daytona 500. They were among the six cars vying for the 2 guaranteed spots today for non-charter teams. Two of the remaining four non-charter drivers (Ryan Truex, Brendan Gaughan, Parker Kligerman and Joey Gase) will race their way into the 500 through their finishing positions after Thursday’s Gander RV Duel.
The cars of Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon and Ty Dillon failed inspection two times before qualifying Sunday. They will also lose their car chief for the rest of Speedweeks and each driver will lose 15 minutes of practice time. All three cars did pass on their third inspection attempt. The car chiefs are Josh Kirk (Elliott), Greg Ebert (A. Dillon) and Billy Pourde (T. Dillon).