William Byron leads Hendrick Motorsports domination of Daytona 500 qualifying
Hendrick Motorsports dominated Daytona 500 front-row qualifying Sunday, and the team wound up with both front row starting spots. William Byron will start the official 2019 season opener on Feb. 17 from the pole and will have teammate Alex Bowman, last year's event pole sitter, alongside in second.
"The Axalta Chevy was really fast. Credit to Chad [Knaus, crew chief] and all the guys,” Bowman said. "It’s been a great off-season. We’re prepared. We’re ready. This is kind of the first step of our process together, so hopefully it goes well next Sunday. We can kind of chill out throughout the Duel races and learn a little bit. I’m looking forward to it. This is awesome.”
Byron's pole is the fifth-straight Daytona 500 pole for Hendrick Motorsports, the fourth in the last five attempts for the No. 24 team. It also is the 700th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole for Chevrolet.
“Congratulations to William Byron and the No 24 Axalta Camaro ZL1 team for being the fastest qualifier today at Daytona” Chevrolet US Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports Jim Campbell said. “This is extra-special as it’s the 700th time that a Chevy has been on the pole for a Cup series race. Thanks to every Team Chevy driver, owner and crew member who contributed to this milestone over the past six decades.”
Byron's pole-winning run in the second of two rounds of single-car laps clocked in a 46.319 seconds. Bowman, after turning in the fastest lap in the opening round, was 0.03-seconds slower that Byron in the final round.
The Hendrick Motorsports quartet of drivers -- Byron, Bowman, Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott -- were the fastest four drivers in both rounds. Byron and Bowman's starting positions for the Daytona 500 are the only spots cemented, though, as the remainder of the 40-car starting grid will be set after two Gander RV Duel races Thursday night.
Although their specific starting spots are not known, Casey Mears and Tyler Reddick doe know they'll have starting spots for the Daytona 500, despite driving cars without charters. They were the two fastest drivers without charters in Sunday's qualifying session.