Bowman Puts The No. 88 Chevy On 500 Pole

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, February 11 2018

Alex Bowman kicked off Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday by winning the pole for this year’s Daytona 500. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)


So much for Alex Bowman suffering from the pressure of taking over ride of NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. Bowman drove the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to the pole of the 2018 Daytona 500 on Sunday.

Bowman laid down a lap of 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway at a speed of 195.644 mph.

The pole was the second of Bowman’s career and comes a year after Earnhardt won the pole for the 500 in his final season before retirement.

“I think it’s still a little surreal,” Bowman said. “It’s a dream come true to get to drive for Hendrick Motorsports. I never thought it would have happened after the path my career took. I’m so thankful to be able to do this. I’m very blessed to be able to call driving a race car my job, and now to get to drive what I think is the best race car in the business.”

Denny Hamlin will line up alongside Bowman after recording a speed of 195.092 mph in his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to nab the second starting spot for the “Great American Race.” Hamlin is the 2016 Daytona 500 winner, but has never started on the front row for the sport’s biggest race.

“I literally am so ecstatic,” Hamlin said. “It’s just so out of the blue because obviously I thought that today was going to be a tough day qualifying. We focused so much on race trim yesterday. We stuck in a pack and I think we did one real mock run which wasn’t really even a mock run and we were so far off that we just switched and made sure our car was going to handle real good on Thursday and obviously next Sunday. This car is ready to race. It’s handling well and we’re looking forward to Thursday. Now, obviously to the 500 being on the front row.”

Bowman and Hamlin also were fastest in the opening round of qualifying.

Sunday’s two-round, single-car qualifying session only produced the front row for the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 18 (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The rest of the field will be determined by Thursday’s Can-Am Duels (7 p.m., FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The lineup for the Duels will be set based on Sunday’s qualifying speeds.

Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and William Byron all showed speed during qualifying, posting the third, fourth and fifth-fastest speeds (respectively) in Sunday’s session. But their Daytona 500 grid positions, along with the rest of the field aside from the front row, will be set based on the Duels.

Third is a fantastic starting spot,” Johnson, seeking a historic eight Cup championship, said. “I’m just proud of everybody at Hendrick and everybody at Chevrolet. We were really going hard for a front-row and wanted that for Chevy more than anything.  Just missed it by a hair.”

(This story will be updated shortly)

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, February 11 2018
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