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HMS driver Alex Bowman, who announced a three-year contract extension earlier Wednesday, posted the fastest lap of qualifying in the final round (181.686 mph) to claim the pole for Sunday’s 500.
Joining him on the front row will be teammate Kyle Larson, who ended up second-fastest (181.057 mph).
Bowman has now started on the front row of the season-opener for a NASCAR record sixth consecutive time. He owns four career poles, with three of them coming in the Daytona 500.
“That’s the trick, right?” Bowman said when asked how he transfer his front row start over to a victory. “We obviously haven’t been able to do that the last five years. We’ll try to make the right decisions in transferring everything over to race trim for Sunday the best we can.
“I’m just so proud of Hendrick Motorsports, the engine shop, all the guys. This Ally Camaro is obviously very fast. I don’t have a lot to do with qualifying here – just fortunate to qualify some really fast race cars.”
Both Larson and Bowman received phone calls from team owner Rick Hendrick following the conclusion of qualifying.
“He’s obviously really excited. It’s a big deal for him and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports and the engine shop,” Larson said. “Really cool for the No. 48 team – that’s awesome.
“Congrats to Alex. He’s got a lot longer legs than me so he can push the gas down further.”
Fellow Hendrick teammate William Byron ended up third, Aric Almirola was fourth and reigning series champion Joey Logano rounded out the top-five.
Completing the top-10 were Chase Briscoe, Ryan Blaney, Austin Cindric, Harrison Burton and Kyle Busch.
Only Bowman and Larson’s starting positions are locked in for Sunday. The remaining lineup will be set by the results of Thursday night’s twin 150-mile qualifying races.
Bowman’s pole is also the ninth consecutive Daytona 500 a team powered by a Hendrick engine has started on the pole and 10 of the last 11.
A Hendrick driver, however, hasn’t won the 500 since 2014.
Kyle Busch’s speed in the final round was disallowed as he ran below the double yellow lines on the backstretch.
Bowman, who has started on the front row in the past five 500s, went out late in the order and bolted to the top with an average lap speed of 181.025 mph to lead the first round.
Briscoe ended up second (180.473 mph) and Larson was third (180.469 mph). Logano and Almirola rounded out the top-five.
Also advancing to the final round were Busch, Byron, Cindic, Blaney and Burton.
Fords claimed six spots in the Top 10 while Toyota was locked out. The top Toyota – Bubba Wallace – qualified 11th. The second-fastest Toyota was rookie Ty Gibbs, who was 19th-fastest.
Among those who also failed to advance were Daniel Suarez, Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick and Tyler Reddick.
By posting the top two speeds among the six unchartered cars, Jimmie Johnson and Travis Pastrana both locked themselves into the field for Sunday’s 500.
Chandler Smith’s No. 13 Chevrolet, the first car on the track, stalled in Turn 1 as he took to the track. He was allowed to bring the car back to pit road and made a second attempt but was the slowest of the cars that made a qualifying attempt.
The Money Team, with Conor Daly driving its No. 50 Chevrolet, did not make a qualifying attempt as it had to fix an electrical issue. Daly could still make the 500 field through Thursday’s qualifying races.