Daytona 500: Earnhardt's NASCAR Cup replacement Bowman takes pole


Alex Bowman scored a dominant pole position in qualifying for NASCAR’s Daytona 500, going fastest in both rounds of qualifying and beating nearest rival Denny Hamlin by 0.130 seconds.

Picked as replacement for the now retired Dale Earnhardt Jr, Bowman posted the fastest time of 46.002s right at the end of second qualifying, having earlier topped the times by 0.020s in the first round.

Bowman’s pole for the Daytona 500 NASCAR Cup season opener is the fourth in as many years for the Hendrick Motorsports squad, with Bowman following up team-mate Chase Elliott’s pair of poles in 2016 and ’17 and his predecessor Jeff Gordon’s ’15 effort.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Hamlin completed the front row, also matching his result from the first round of qualifying.

NASCAR’s first race of the year has a unique qualifying structure, with 12 cars progressing to the second round of qualifying and only the two fastest drivers’ positions locked in for the following Sunday’s race after that.

The rest of the field will have their starting positions determined by the results of the two ‘Duel’ races next Thursday night.

Bowman and Hamlin’s respective team-mates, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch, posted the third and fourth quickest times, earning them front row starts for each of the Duel races next Thursday.

The rank and file nature of the fastest drivers continued, as Hendrick and JGR cars were fifth and sixth in the second round of qualifying, William Byron edging out Erik Jones.

All four of Joe Gibbs’ cars were in the top seven, with Daniel Suarez leading Ford pair Kevin Harvick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Last year’s polesitter Elliott completed the top 10, just ahead of Joey Logano.

Paul Menard was the only driver from a single-car team to make it into the second qualifying round, the Penske-affiliated Wood Brothers Racing Ford going slowest in the pole position run-off.

Reigning Cup champion Martin Truex Jr (pictured above) was 26th in his Furniture Row Racing Toyota, two places ahead of Danica Patrick – who will contest her final Daytona 500 this year.

A brief red flag was deployed during the first qualifying round, as David Ragan’s #38 Ford suffered a brake problem.

The Front Row Motorsports driver will start from the rear of the field in one of next Thursday’s Duel races, having failed to set a time.

BK Racing’s Gray Gaulding joined Ragan on the sidelines, his car failing to pass through scrutineering in time to take his allocated qualifying slot.

Second qualifying times

Pos Driver Team Car Gap Laps
1 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 46.002s 1
2 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 0.130s 1
3 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 0.215s 1
4 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 0.222s 1
5 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 0.259s 1
6 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 0.277s 1
7 Daniel Suarez Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 0.278s 1
8 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 0.279s 1
9 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 0.379s 1
10 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 0.411s 1
11 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 0.435s 1
12 Paul Menard Wood Brothers Racing Ford 0.582s 1

First qualifying times

Pos Driver Team Car Gap Laps
1 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 46.181s 1
2 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 0.020s 1
3 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 0.132s 1
4 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 0.147s 1
5 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 0.185s 1
6 Daniel Suarez Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 0.231s 1
7 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 0.239s 1
8 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 0.239s 1
9 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 0.241s 1
10 Paul Menard Wood Brothers Racing Ford 0.289s 1
11 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 0.332s 1
12 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 0.353s 1
13 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 0.358s 1
14 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 0.365s 1
15 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford 0.396s 1
16 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 0.477s 1
17 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 0.497s 1
18 Kasey Kahne Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet 0.513s 1
19 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 0.517s 1
20 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford 0.600s 1
21 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 0.635s 1
22 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 0.636s 1
23 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 0.655s 1
24 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford 0.718s 1
25 Darrell Wallace Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet 0.757s 1
26 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing Toyota 0.821s 1
27 Ty Dillon Germain Racing Chevrolet 0.893s 1
28 Danica Patrick Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 0.900s 1
29 Chris Buescher JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 0.914s 1
30 A.J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 0.963s 1
31 Brendan Gaughan Beard Motorsports Chevrolet 1.217s 1
32 Justin Marks Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet 1.283s 1
33 Matt DiBenedetto Go FAS Racing Ford 1.494s 1
34 D.J. Kennington Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota 1.667s 1
35 Jeffrey Earnhardt StarCom Racing Chevrolet 1.685s 1
36 David Gilliland RBR Enterprises Ford 1.703s 1
37 Mark Thompson MBM Motorsports Ford 2.086s 1
38 Corey LaJoie TriStar Motorsports Chevrolet 2.191s 1
39 Gray Gaulding BK Racing Toyota 0
40 David Ragan Front Row Motorsports Ford 0



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