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NASCAR Cup: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. scores Daytona 500 pole

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., driver of the #47 Kroger Camaro ZL1 1LE, captured the Pole position Sunday February 9, 2020 to start on the front row in the NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 race next weekend at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Alex Bowman, driver of the #88 Valvoline Camaro ZL1 1LE will join him on the first row. (Photo by Chris Owens/HHP for Chevy Racing)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Ricky Stenhouse will begin his first year with JTG-Daugherty Racing on the pole for the Daytona 500, scheduled for Feb. 16 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. With a 46.253-second/194.582 mph lap during front row qualifying on Sunday, he snapped a five-year streak of poles for Hendrick Motorsports in the NASCAR Cup Series season opener. JTG-Daugherty does have ties to HMS, though, as the two organizations have a technical alliance that includes the use of Hendrick engines in Stenhouse’s No. 47.

“Any time you can start the season off, your first race with an organization, and to see all the work that they’ve put in, guys at the shop that I didn’t even know were working Saturdays and late nights all for the benefit of me to come down here and jump in this car and run fast,” Stenhouse said. “Touring the Hendrick engine shop, they were pumped up for me to switch over into their horsepower, so this goes to a lot of people that work hard behind the scenes for me to come out here and drive. It’s a cool way to start Speedweeks.”

Stenhouse’s pole is the eighth-consecutive Daytona 500 pole for Chevrolet.

Hendrick Motorsports still put a car on the front row for the 2020 Daytona 500 with Alex Bowman qualifying second.

Stenhouse’s latest pole is his first since 2017 and the first for JTG-Daugherty Racing since 2015. It’s his third-career Cup Series pole.

The front row starting positions were the only two positions determined during Sunday’s qualifying session. The other 38 starting spots will be set upon the conclusion of two Bluegreen Vacations Duel races Thursday. Sunday’s qualifying session also determined the lineup for those two races. Stenhouse will be on the pole for the first Duel and Bowman the second race. The first race is scheduled for an approximate 7 p.m. ET green flag.

All four Hendrick cars were in the top-10 on the scoring pylon at the end of Sunday’s qualifying session, including three in the top-four positions. Just behind Bowman were teammates Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson in third and fourth. William Byron, the 2019 Daytona 500 pole sitter, was eighth. Last year’s Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin was fifth, and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and reigning Cup Series champion Kyle Busch was sixth.

“I was happy with it,” Hamlin said of his lap. “I thought that anywhere inside the top-five I was going to be pretty happy with. Other than maybe 2016 or one of those years when we got the front row, it’s better than all the other results. Pretty happy with it. It gives us a great starting spot for Thursday, and I know our car is going to handle really well. All is good.”

Stenhouse was among the first 23 drivers to make qualifying laps, while the top-20 teams from last year’s season-ending standings were held until later to be the final 20 to make qualifying attempts in order of a random draw. Also among the first 23 were drivers with seven open, or non-chartered, teams not guaranteed one of 40 Daytona 500 starting positions.

Although they don’t know their specific starting spots in the Daytona 500, Justin Haley and Brendan Gaughan posted fast enough lap times Sunday to guarantee starting spots somewhere in the Daytona 500 field, regardless of their performances in Thursday’s Duels. They were the top-two qualifiers among those with open teams. Haley was 31st, overall, and Gaughan 33rd.

Drivers with 36 chartered teams also are guaranteed spots somewhere on the Daytona 500 starting grid. Drivers not already locked into the Daytona 500 include Chad Finchum, Timmy Hill, Reed Sorenson, Daniel Suarez and J.J. Yeley.

“We have to race; we have to race hard,” Suarez said. “We knew that we would have a lot of challenges and that we didn’t also have the raw speed, but I know what I can do. I just have to go out there – what is it Wednesday, no Thursday – Thursday and get it done.”

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

Below, are the starting grids for Thursday’s Bluegreen Vacations Duels:

DUEL 1

1.Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty Racing
2.Chase ElliottHendrick Motorsports
3.Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs Racing
4.Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas Racing
5.Christopher BellLeavine Family Racing
6.Joey LoganoTeam Penske
7.Clint BowyerStewart-Haas Racing
8.Ryan NewmanRoush Fenway Racing
9.Ryan PreeceJTG Daugherty Racing
10.Chris BuescherRoush Fenway Racing
11.Martin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs Racing
12.Brad KeselowskiTeam Penske
13.John Hunter NemechekFront Row Motorsports
14.Ryan BlaneyTeam Penske
15.Austin DillonRichard Childress Racing
16.Justin Haley*Kaulig Racing*
17.Reed Sorenson*Premium Motorsports*
18.Timmy Hill*MBM Motorsports*
19.Corey LaJoieGO FAS Racing
20.J.J. Yeley*Rick Ware Racing*
21.Joey GasePetty Ware Racing
22.BJ McLeodRick Ware Racing

DUEL 2

1.Alex BowmanHendrick Motorsports
2.Jimmie JohnsonHendrick Motorsports
3.Kyle BuschJoe Gibbs Racing
4.William ByronHendrick Motorsports
5.Erik JonesJoe Gibbs Racing
6.Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas Racing
7.Cole CusterStewart-Haas Racing
8.Matt DiBenedettoWood Brothers Racing
9.Tyler ReddickRichard Childress Racing
10.Kyle LarsonChip Ganassi Racing
11.Kurt BuschChip Ganassi Racing
12.Michael McDowellFront Row Motorsports
13.David RaganRick Ware Racing
14.Ross ChastainSpire Motorsports
15.Ty DillonGermain Racing
16.Bubba WallaceRichard Petty Motorsports
17.Brendan Gaughan*Beard Motorsports*
18.Daniel Suarez*Gaunt Brothers Racing*
19.Quin HouffStarCom Racing
20.Brennan PoolePremium Motorsports
21.Chad Finchum*MBM Motorsports*

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Posted by on February 9, 2020. 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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