Alex Bowman makes history in taking pole for Daytona 500

Alex Bowman and William Byron will start on the pole for the Daytona 500.
Alex Bowman and William Byron will start on the pole for the Daytona 500.

Alex Bowman claimed the pole position for the Daytona 500 on Wednesday night and, in doing so, etched his name in the record book. In his first qualifying try in his new No. 48 Chevrolet, Alex Bowman will start on the front row for the Great American Race for the fourth straight year.

In winning his second Daytona 500 pole, Alex Bowman put such stars as Ken Schrader and Hall of Famers Fireball Roberts, Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott and Richard Petty in his rearview mirror.

“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," Bowman said. "They work so hard on these superspeedway cars. They’re beautiful when they get to the race track. Our 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.”

Also Read: Daytona 500 qualifying results

Alex Bowman won one NASCAR Cup Series race last year and finished sixth in the final standings.

Alex Bowman took over the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet after Jimmie Johnson retired from NASCAR, and many wondered if the pressure of taking over for a legend could weigh on him this year. If this performance in Daytona 500 qualifying is any indication, he might be in for a Hall of Fame-type year himself.

“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.”

Daytona has been good for Alex Bowman

Alex Bowman, a 27-year old Arizona native, won the Daytona 500 pole in 2018 and was second the next two years. His time 47.056 (191.261 mph) was 0.258 seconds better than teammate William Byron, who will be on the front row for the second time in his career. It was the 14th pole for Hendrick Motorsports.

Also Read: Kyle Larson grateful for second chance

From a team standpoint, Richard Petty Motorsports has a record nine Daytona 500 victories. Hendrick could tie that mark if one of the its cars finds the winner’s circle this year.

With Hendrick Motorsports teammates on the front row, Alex Bowman will be on the pole for the first duel race, with Byron leading the field to green in Duel 2.

Alex Bowman wins the pole for the Daytona 500. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Alex Bowman wins the pole for the Daytona 500. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Daytona 500 Qualifying News and Notes

For the first time, qualifying was held at night and just days before the Daytona 500. In years past, it was held the week before during the day, giving teams extra time to prepare for the Duels that would set the field. Now the Bluegreen Vacations Duel races will take place the next night.

When Josh Bilicki rolled off first, the air temperature was 67° and the track temperature was 74° under clear skies. On Sunday, the predicted high is 74°, but the chance of rain is 54%, and thunderstorms 60%.

Alex Bowman and other drivers entered in the Daytona 500 got something on Wednesdsay they haven’t seen since before the pandemic struck last year — practice. Qualifying was also scratched once racing resumed in May except for one event, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was a touch of normalcy when things in this country are still far from normal.

Daytona 500 qualifying oddities

Qualifying for the Daytona 500 was supposed to get going sometime after 7 p.m. EST, but a not so funny thing happened on the way to getting the first of 44 cars on the track. What haunted NASCAR for most of the 2020 season was the weather. Delays and postponements — one event for days — was the order for most days. This time a gremlin got into the electrical system causing the track to go dark on the frontstretch.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr, driving the No. 47 Chevrolet, timed in at 47.47 seconds, which put him on the provisional pole at the time until he was knocked off his perch by Bubba Wallace as the 19th car out.

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Edited by Jeff Owens
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