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NASCAR Cup: Alex Bowman claims Daytona 500 pole

Alex Bowman with his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team in victory lane at Daytona International Speedway after winning the pole for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 11, 2018 (photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)

Alex Bowman with his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team in victory lane at Daytona International Speedway after winning the pole for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 11, 2018 (photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)


After posting a 46.002-second/195.644 mph lap in the second of two rounds of single-car qualifying Sunday at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Alex Bowman claimed his second-career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole to start the season-opening Daytona 500 from the top starting spot Feb. 18. Next Sunday’s race will be Bowman’s second-career Daytona 500, his first since 2014.

Denny Hamlin qualified second to start the Daytona 500 alongside Bowman on the front row. It will be Hamlin’s first Daytona 500 front-row start.

The remainder of the Daytona 500 starting grid will be determined based on results from Thursday evening’s Can-Am Duel races.

Bowman’s pole is the fourth-consecutive Daytona 500 pole for Hendrick Motorsports and the fifth-straight for Chevrolet. It also marks the third-straight restrictor-plate pole for the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team, picking up were Dale Earnhardt Jr. left off with poles last July at Daytona and last fall at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

Bowman and Hamlin were the two fastest drivers in both rounds of qualifying Sunday, with Bowman being fastest and Hamlin second, also, in round one.

“It was a little nerve-wracking,” Bowman said. “Our Nationwide Camaro ZL1 has been great since we unloaded. All the guys back at the chassis shop, body shop, and the Hendrick engine shop have been top-notch. They’ve all worked so hard, and we knew we were going for the pole; that’s what we’re here to do. And I thought we were at a little disadvantage, letting the car cool down as long as we did, since we went pretty early in the first round. I was a little nervous for that second round, but it took off well off pit road and I did everything I could do, but it really comes down to the crew and all the guys back at the shop, whether it’s the aero group, the engine shop, the chassis shop. Everybody works so hard at these speedway cars, especially the 500. It just means the world to have Nationwide support and to be able to put it on the pole.”

Neither David Ragan nor Gray Gaulding made timed laps during Sunday’s qualifying session, but with only 40 cars on the entry list, they’ll both have Daytona 500 starting spots, regardless to their finishes in Thursday’s Duel races.

Each of the three manufacturers sent four drivers/teams to the second round of 12 of qualifying on Sunday, but in that second round, Toyota and Chevrolet drivers posted the top-seven laps, with Kevin Harvick having the fastest lap for Ford in eighth.

“I am extremely happy with the effort,” Harvick said. “For me, personally, just guessing, I didn’t think we would run that fast. The second round pick up was really good. I know we have done a lot of things to our car to slow it down to make sure it handles good on Thursday. From that standpoint, I think the speed is better than we expected just because of that.”

Bowman’s HMS teammate, Jimmie Johnson, and Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch, were third and fourth in the second round Sunday, while a third Hendrick driver, William Byron, rounded out the top-five.

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Posted by on February 11, 2018. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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