DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Alex Bowman set a Daytona 500 record in earning the pole for the 63rd edition of The Great American Race Wednesday during Kroger Pole Night at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
In the first-ever nighttime Daytona 500 qualifying session, Bowman toured the 2.5-mile superspeedway in 47.056 seconds (191.261 mph) with his No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE to earn his second Daytona 500 pole in four years.
It marked the third Busch Pole Award of Bowman’s NASCAR Cup Series career, and it was his first pole since the 2018 Daytona 500. He secured the top spot by more than a quarter second in qualifying.
Most notably, however, it was the fourth year in a row that Bowman has qualified on the front row for The Great American Race, breaking a tie with Fireball Roberts, Bill Elliott and Ken Schrader for the record in that category.
Bowman knew it was a big moment as soon as he climbed from the car, but was quick to note that it didn’t have much to do with him and credited the pole position to his Hendrick Motorsports crew.
“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,” said Bowman. “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.”
“I’m just really proud of everybody; all our partners at Hendrick Motorsports. Thanks to Team Chevy for giving us great racecars. 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.”
Wednesday night marked the sixth Daytona 500 pole in the last seven years for Hendrick Motorsports and the organization’s record-extending 14th Daytona 500 pole position overall.
Bowman’s teammate, William Byron, will join him on the front row Sunday after a lap of 47.314 seconds (190.219 mph) in the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE.
It’s the seventh time that in history that car owner Rick Hendrick has swept the Daytona 500 front row.
“I feel like Hendrick Motorsports always gives us great cars to come down here and qualify well and race well,” said Byron. “You never know which of the four of us is going to come down here and be fast, but we were determined to come down here and start the week off strong. This was our goal and it’s great to see both Alex and I up here running well … and hopefully we can keep it going through into Sunday.”
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola was .01 of a second short of grabbing a top-two starting spot, landing third-fastest in the No. 10 Ford Mustang at 47.324 seconds (190.178 mph).
After leading the way in practice, Bubba Wallace’s qualifying debut with 23XI Racing in the No. 23 Toyota Camry ended with the fourth-fastest lap (47.474/189.577).
Last year’s Daytona 500 pole winner, Ricky Stenhouse, was fifth ahead of Kevin Harvick, Christopher Bell, Ryan Preece, Austin Dillon and Daniel Suarez on the speed charts.
Three-time and defending Daytona 500 champion Denny Hamlin was 12th in the No. 11 Toyota Camry.
By virtue of being the two fastest non-chartered entries during qualifying, JTG Daugherty Racing’s Preece and Front Row Motorsports’ David Ragan clinched their starting spots in the 63rd Daytona 500.
Ragan was 13th-fastest on the time sheets, less than half a tenth of a second slower than Hamlin.
In his return to NASCAR Cup Series competition for the first time in 10 months, Kyle Larson qualified 15th in the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, slowest among the four Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets.
Noah Gragson’s No. 62 Beard Motorsports Chevrolet failed pre-qualifying inspection three times and was not permitted to make a qualifying attempt as a result.
Gragson will have to start at the back of his Duel qualifying race and, as one of the six non-chartered drivers not yet locked in, will have to race his way into the Daytona 500 field.
The remaining spots on the grid for The Great American Race will be finalized during the 150-mile Bluegreen Vacations Duels at Daytona.
Coverage of the Duels begins Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET on FS1, the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.
To view complete qualifying results, advance to the next page.
— to speedsport.com