For the second time in his career, Alex Bowman (47.056) won the pole for the Daytona 500 Thursday night. It’s the third pole for Bowman in his NASCAR Cup Series tenure as he won the pole for “The Great American Race” in 2018 and won the pole at Phoenix Raceway in 2016 after filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
It’s the fourth time in a row Bowman will start on the front row for the Daytona 500 and he is joined by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate in William Byron (47.314), who will start the 500 on the outside of Bowman. It’s the seventh-straight Daytona 500 that a Hendrick car will sit on the front row.
While the debutant teams of 23XI Racing and Trackhouse Racing didn’t earn a front row spot, both of their cars showed speed as Bubba Wallace finished with the fourth-fastest time (47.474) and Daniel Suarez rounded out the top 10 (47.636).
Coming into the evening, eight open cars competed for two spots that locked in drivers to the main event based on speed, which were earned by Ryan Preece and David Ragan. Austin Cindric, Kaz Grala, Ty Dillon, Garrett Smithley, Timmy Hill and Noah Gragson will have to race their way into the Daytona 500 in the qualifying duels Thursday evening.
Gragson did not get a chance to qualify after failing pre-qualifying inspection three times. 62-year old Derrike Cope didn’t get a qualifying lap either due to a battery issue, but he, along with three other Rick Ware Racing cars are already locked into the Daytona 500 due to owning charters.
The three RWR cars that did lay down a lap were the three slowest in the field.
While two cars’ starting positions are locked for the Daytona 500 (barring a backup car, engine change, unapproved adjustments, etc…), the 3-40 positions will be set Thursday in the Duels, which are set to begin at 7:00 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1.