William Byron made a statement for Hendrick Motorsports on Sunday, as he scored the pole for next weekend’s Daytona 500.
Byron led an all Team Hendrick juggernaut in the final round of qualifying, as all four drivers took the top four spots on the leader board
The 21-year-old toured the 2.5 mile Daytona International Speedway with a lap in 46.319 seconds at 194.305 mph in the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro to record his first pole in the “Great American Race.”
“Yeah, it’s awesome for Chevrolet,” Bowman said. “The Axalta Chevy was really fast. Credit to (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and all the guys. It’s been a great off-season. We’re prepared. We’re ready. This is kind of the first step of our process together, so hopefully it goes well next Sunday. We can kind of chill out throughout the Duel races and learn a little bit. I’m looking forward to it. This is awesome.”
The pole comes in Bowman’s first pairing with crew chief Chad Knaus, who moved over from teammate Jimmie Johnson’s car this year.
“I’m enjoying working with William and the guys,” Knaus said. “It’s really neat to come down here and be able to perform like that for Axalta and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports.”
It marks the fifth straight Daytona 500 pole for Hendrick Motorsports and the 700th overall for Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
“Congratulations to Chevy for their 700th pole and our fifth in a row down here,” said team owner Rick Hendrick. “I’m so happy for William and for all our guys, for Alex (Bowman) on the outside and Axalta and all the sponsors. This is Ally’s first race. So, we’re just pumped. It’s a good way to start the year.”
Second fastest was the defending pole winner for the race, Alex Bowman, who turned a lap in 46.355 seconds at 194.154 mph. Bowman paced the first round of qualifying, but fell just short in the final round.
“You know a driver can’t really do much,” Bowman said. “It’s all car and crew, so very proud of these guys, the Hendrick engine shop and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. They do a great job. It’s neat. Really cool to have a fast race car down here.”
Byron and Bowman can now move through the rest of the SpeedWeeks with a little less pressure, as they are the only two drivers locked into next Sunday’s Daytona 500. The rest of the starting field will be set by Thursday night’s qualifying races.
Two-time 500 winner Jimmie Johnson, was third fastest, with two-time 500 winner Jimmie Johnson with Chase Elliott, a two-time pole winner for the 500, fourth quick. Rookie driver Daniel Hemric was fifth fastest.
Defending MENCS champion Joey Logano was sixth, with Martin Truex, Jr., Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski, defending 500 winner Austin Dillon, Paul Menard and Denny Hamlin rounding out the top 12.
Notables that didn’t make the final round of qualifying included Kyle Busch (13th), Kevin Harvick (15th), Aric Almirola (19th), Kurt Busch (21) and Darrell Wallace, Jr. (33rd).
Two non-chartered drivers, Tyler Reddick and Casey Mears, were fast enough to lock themselves into the Daytona 500 on speed, while Ryan Truex, Brendan Gaughan, Parker Kligerman and Joey Gase will have to race their way into the starting field in Thursday’s qualifying races.
Elliott, Austin Dillon and Ty Dillon lost their car chiefs prior to the start of qualifying, and will have to race without them for the rest of SpeedWeeks.
NASCAR ejected the three car chiefs for repeatedly failing inspection, as Greg Ebert (Austin Dillon), Billy Plourde (Ty Dillon) and Josh Kirk (Elliott) are not allowed back in the garage until the next race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The three drivers have also been hit with a 15 minute penalty prior to final practice for Sunday’s Daytona 500.
The ejections come as NASCAR has announced crack downs on inspection failures, including the possibility of post-race disqualifications.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Daytona International Speedway – Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona 500 – February 10, 2019
Sunday’s Qualifying Results
1. (24) William Byron, Chevrolet, 194.305 mph.*
2. (88) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 194.154 mph.*
3. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 193.807 mph.
4. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 193.782 mph.
5. (8) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 192.460 mph.
6. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 192.448 mph.
7. (19) Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota, 192.353 mph.
8. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 192.291 mph.
9. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 192.263 mph.
10. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 191.416 mph.
11. (21) Paul Menard, Ford, 191.107 mph.
12. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 190.492 mph.
13. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 191.164 mph.
14. (20) Erik Jones, Toyota, 191.127 mph.
15. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 190.957 mph.
16. (31) Tyler Reddick(i), Chevrolet, 190.836 mph.
17. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 190.799 mph.
18. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 190.771 mph.
19. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 190.739 mph.
20. (41) Daniel Suarez, Ford, 190.698 mph.
21. (1) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 190.589 mph.
22. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 190.432 mph.
23. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 190.420 mph.
24. (6) Ryan Newman, Ford, 190.018 mph.
25. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 189.978 mph.
26. (27) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 189.849 mph.
27. (71) Ryan Truex(i), Chevrolet, 189.737 mph.
28. (47) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 189.709 mph.
29. (40) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 189.482 mph.
30. (95) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 189.414 mph.
31. (62) Brendan Gaughan(i), Chevrolet, 189.394 mph.
32. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 189.215 mph.
33. (43) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 189.191 mph.
34. (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 188.715 mph.
35. (36) Matt Tifft #, Ford, 188.667 mph.
36. (96) Parker Kligerman(i), Toyota, 188.206 mph.
37. (15) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 187.899 mph.
38. (00) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 187.402 mph.
39. (32) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 185.847 mph.
40. (52) Cody Ware #, Chevrolet, 183.737 mph.
41. (51) B.J. McLeod(i), Chevrolet, 182.682 mph.
42. (66) Joey Gase(i), Toyota, 180.930 mph.
*Locked into the front row for the Daytona 500. The rest of the starting field will be determined in Thursday’s qualifying races.