Alex Bowman will start his first full-time season in the 88 on pole position for The Great American Race, the fourth consecutive for Hendrick Motorsport. Denny Hamlin was the fastest Toyota and will be start on the front row alongside Bowman.
Bowman has already experienced the pressure of driving in place of one of the most popular drivers in the sports history when he substituted for an injured Dale Earnhardt Jr in 2016. In 10 race starts he achieved three top 10s and a pole position in the Phoenix play off race, a performance that made him a no brainer to replace Jr when he retired at the end of the 2017 season.
A Dream Come True
“It was a little nerve-wracking. You know, our Nationwide Camaro ZL1 has been great since we unloaded,” said Bowman of qualifying. “All the guys back at the chassis shop, the body shop, the Hendrick engine shop – they all work so hard. We knew were going for the pole. That’s what we were here to do.”
“It’s a dream come true to get to drive for Hendrick Motorsports. I never thought it would have happened after the path my career took. I’m so thankful to be able to do this. I’m very blessed to be able to call driving a race car my job, and now to get to drive what I think is the best race car in the business.”
Seven time champion Jimmie Johnson was third fastest with Kyle Busch and William Byron completing the top five. The field behind Bowman and Hamlin will now be decided on Thursday evening in the Can-Am Duels. Two 150 mile qualifying races, the line up of which determined by the fastest single lap times from qualifying. Race 1 will feature the drivers starting on the inside row for the Daytona 500 (odd numbers) and their positions. Race 2 will feature the outside row (even numbers).
Much like the stage points introduced last season, points will be awarded to the top 10 finishers of the Duels. 10 points for first place, 9 for second and so on down to 1 point for 10th. These point will be carried through the season.
Daytona 500 Schedule
Can-Am Duel 1 19:00 ET (00:00 GMT)
Can-Am Duel 2 21:00 ET (02:00 GMT)
NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series NextEra Energy Resources 250 19:30 ET (00:30 GMT)
NASCAR Xfinity Series PowerShares QQQ 300 14:30 ET (19:30 GMT)
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 14:30 ET (19:30 GMT)
Live race updates on twitter @ltmsport
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Image Courtesy of Tireball.com