It’s becoming a near-yearly tradition of Hendrick Motorsports staking claim to the front row of the Daytona 500 starting grid, it happened again on Wednesday night as Alex Bowman crushed the field to take the pole in the 2021 Great American Race.
Bowman’s lap was an eye-opening 191.261 miles-per-hour, which equates to a 47.056 sec. lap time.
This is Bowman’s second Daytona 500 pole, the other came in 2018. Incredibly, this marks the fourth-straight season that Bowman has been on the front row of the Daytona 500.
While it would be easy for Bowman to point to those stats and ask to receive credit for his incredible qualifying results at Daytona, Bowman says the credit belongs to his No. 48 team.
“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 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 27-year old driver moved to HMS’ iconic No. 48 Ally car for the 2021 season after Jimmie Johnson retired from full-time competition following the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season.
William Byron in the No. 24 Axalta came up one spot shy of his second-career Daytona 500 pole, but like Bowman, he now has his spot in Sunday’s starting lineup secured after a 190.219 mph / 47.314 sec. lap.
Byron is just happy to be sharing the front row with his teammate.
The rest of the field will have to turn to Thursday’s Bluegreen Vacation Duels to find out where they’ll start in Sunday’s race.
Aric Almirola was third-fastest in qualifying, while Bubba Wallace was fourth in his first-ever qualifying session for the new 23XI Racing team, which is owned by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who won the pole in last season’s Daytona 500, was fifth-quickest in this session.
Eight drivers of “Open” cars are battling for four starting spots in the 2021 Daytona 500. In this qualifying session, Ryan Preece, who was eighth-fastest and David Ragan, who was 13th-fastest, have secured their place in the 40-car field.
Preece, who was feeling the pressure heading into the qualifying session, is just proud of his team for locking in the field on speed.
“I knew we would have speed in our No. 37 Cottonelle Chevrolet, but I am really proud of the effort that everyone at JTG Daugherty Racing organization put in to get our car as fast as it is and qualify on speed into the DAYTONA 500,” Preece said.
That leaves two starting spots up for grabs between Austin Cindric, Kaz Grala, Ty Dillon, Garrett Smithley, Timmy Hill and Noah Gragson in Thursday’s duels.
Here are the full results from Wednesday’s Daytona 500 qualifying session: