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NASCAR Cup: Alex Bowman leads Hendrick sweep of Daytona 500 front row

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 10: Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, drives during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series 63rd Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 10, 2021 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Hendrick Motorsports continued its dominance of Daytona 500 front-row qualifying Wednesday night at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Alex Bowman will take the green flag in the official 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season-opener Sunday from the pole after posting a 47.056-second/191.261 mph lap in Wednesday’s qualifying session. HMS teammate William Byron will start alongside Bowman on the front row after posting a 47.314-second/190.219 mph lap Wednesday.

“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,” Bowman said. “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.”

Bowman’s 2021 Daytona 500 pole is his second in the race monikered “The Great American Race” and the sixth for Hendrick Motorsports in the last seven editions of the race. Together, Bowman and Byron gave HMS its seventh sweep of both Daytona front-row starting spots.

Sunday’s race also will mark Bowman’s fourth-consecutive Daytona 500 front-row start.

“I’m just really proud of everybody, all our partners at Hendrick Motorsports,” Bowman, who moved from the No. 88 to the No. 48 ahead of 2021, said. “Thanks to Team Chevy for giving us great race cars. It feels really good. It’s awesome for Ally. I don’t know if they’ve gotten a pole yet. I figured they probably had a pole with Jimmie (Johnson) somewhere, but I don’t know. Man, it’s just awesome to be driving this No. 48 car.”

Bowman and Byron are the only two drivers who know their exact starting positions heading into Sunday’s race. The remainder of the 40-car starting will be set after the completion of two Bluegreen Vacation Duel races on Thursday night. The starting grid for those races have been set based on Wednesday’s qualifying speeds, with drivers qualifying in odd positions running the first Duel, led to the green flag by Bowman. The even qualifiers will contest the second Duel, with Byron on the pole for that race.

Forty-four cars are entered for the Daytona 500 — eight of those as open teams, or teams without charters. Noah Gragson wasn’t allowed to make a qualifying attempt in the No. 62 Beard Motorsports entry because of multiple failed inspections. Derrike Cope also didn’t make a qualifying attempt in the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing entry because of an engine issue.

Ryan Preece, driver of the No. 37 JTG-Daugherty Racing Chevrolet, and David Ragan, driver of the No. 36 Front Row Motorsports Ford, were the fastest of the open drivers, so they are guaranteed positions somewhere on the Daytona 500 starting grid, as two positions in the back are reserved for two open teams that don’t race their ways into the Daytona 500 through the Duel races.

Preece was eighth fastest in single-car qualifying Wednesday, while Ragan was 13th.

Daniel Suarez, 2020 Daytona 500 pole sitter Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Darrell Wallace Jr. and Byron were all provisional pole sitters during Wednesday night’s qualifying session before Bowman went out 36th and claimed the pole.

Aric Almirola was third behind the Hendrick duo of Bowman and Byron on Wednesday. Wallace was fourth and Stenhouse fifth.

Below, are the results of Daytona 500 front-row qualifying:

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Posted by on February 11, 2021. Filed under Breaking News,Cup Series,Featured,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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