It will be a Hendrick Motorsports front row for the Daytona 500. Again.
In his first on-track pairing with crew chief Chad Knaus, William Byron captured the pole (194.305 mph) and teammate Alex Bowman, who won last year’s 500 pole, will sit on the outside of the front row (194.154 mph).
It marked the fifth consecutive Daytona 500 pole for a Hendrick Chevrolet and the first of Byron’s Cup career.
“I thought the Chevy was real fast,” Byron told Fox Sports. “Credit to Chad and all the guys. It’s been a great offseason. We’re prepared. This is the first step of our process together.”
The last driver to win the Daytona 500 from the pole was NASCAR on NBC analyst Dale Jarrett in 2000.
Only the starting positions for Byron and Bowman are locked in, though Hendrick drivers swept the top four spots in Sunday’s qualifying. Two-time Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson, who will start his first Cup race with crew chief Kevin Meendering after 16 seasons with Knaus, was third (193.807 mph), followed by Chase Elliott (193.782 mph).
The remainder of the 40-car field for the 500 will be set during Thursday’s two qualifying races.
Tyler Reddick and Casey Mears locked themselves into two of the four non-charter spots for the 500 via qualifying speeds Sunday. The other two non-charter entries will be determined Thursday during the qualifiers.
A total of six Chevrolet Camaros (including all four Hendrick Motorsports entries), four Ford Mustangs and two Toyota Camrys made the second and final 12-car qualifying round.
The rest of the second-round qualifiers were Daniel Hemric (192.460 mph), defending Cup champion Joey Logano (192.448), Martin Truex Jr. (192.353), Clint Bowyer (192.291), Brad Keselowski (192.263), defending Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon (191.416), Paul Menard (191.107) and Denny Hamlin (190.492).