Bowman leads another Hendrick Motorsports sweep in Daytona 500 qualifying

Same driver, different car number, same result. Alex Bowman led a Hendrick Motorsports front row lockout Wednesday night edging out his teammate William Byron for his second Daytona 500 pole. Bowman put down a lap of 47.056, 191.261 miles per hour to score his third career pole.

Byron, the 2019 Daytona 500 pole winner put his lap down prior to Bowman and held provisional pole with a time of 47.314, 190.219 mph. Only the starting spots are locked into the field, the remainder will be determined by the Thursday night’s Duel qualifying races.

“It doesn’t really have a lot to do with me,” Bowman who took over the No. 48 for the retiring Jimmie Johnson this season said. “It’s a testament to these guys and everybody back at the shop at Hendrick Motorsports. They work so hard on these superspeedway cars. They’re beautiful when they get to the racetrack. 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.”

The first night qualifying session for the Daytona 500 was delayed a few minutes when lights around the track went out.

A total of seven cars needed to race their way into the field on speed or via the qualifying races. David Ragan and Ryan Preece secured a starting spot in the field Wednesday night. Preece was 8th in qualifying Ragan 13th.

Noah Gragson’s Chevy failed pre-qualifying inspection three times. He was not allowed to qualify and will have to race his way in; Derrike Cope also did not take a lap. Gragson will be racing with Austin Cindric, Ty Dillon, Kaz Grala, Timmy Hill and Garrett Smithley for the final two spots in the 40-car field that includes the 36 charter teams guaranteed entry.

With the front row sweep Hendrick Motorsports has now taken the top two spots in the Daytona 500 in six of the last seven races

“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.”

Duel 1 is scheduled for a 7 p.m. ET start Thursday, while Duel 2 is set for 9 p.m. ET right afterward.

Greg Engle