Stenhouse Earns Pole For 500

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, February 9 2020
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will start the 2020 Daytona 500 from the pole. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Chris Owens)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made his Chevrolet debut Sunday by snaring his first Daytona 500 pole with a 194.582-mph lap, but it was Hendrick Motorsports’ engines that solidified themselves as a power dynasty in qualifying for the season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

Seven of the last eight Daytona 500 pole winners have driven Chevrolets powered by Hendrick engines. The only year a Hendrick Motorsports driver wasn’t on the front for the prestigious Daytona 500 during that time was 2014 when Austin Dillon earned the pole and Martin Truex Jr. was second quickest, both with ECR engines. 

“To keep the streak alive of the Chevys and Hendrick engines on the pole and on the front row is pretty cool.” Stenhouse said. “I know everybody at JTG Daugherty Racing has worked really hard this off-season, and I think that’s what makes it special to me … knowing that those guys put in the effort. Not only just the work, but they know exactly what to do to make our cars fast.” 

Sunday each of the first four drivers piloted a Chevrolet equipped with a Hendrick engine. Alex Bowman was second quickest at 194.363 mph, meaning he has now started on the front row for the last three Daytona 500s. He earned the pole in 2018 and started second to teammate William Byron last year. Chase Elliott was third quickest this year at 194.305 mph and Jimmie Johnson fourth at 193.886 mph. Byron was eighth quickest at 192.443 mph. 

“Everybody at HMS puts so much effort into these speedway cars,” Bowman said. “As a race car driver, there’s not much you can do to make them go faster, but you can sure screw them up, so at least I didn’t do that.” 

A Chevrolet driver has now won the Daytona 500 pole for eight straight years and 12 of the last 14 years. The only years during that time that Chevrolet didn’t claim the pole were 2007 and 2012 when David Gilliland and Carl Edwards took the No. 1 spot, respectively, in Fords.  

Only the front row is set for next weekend’s race. The other starting positions for the Daytona 500 will be set by Thursday’s qualifying races. Sunday’s speeds determine the lineups for the Duals. Stenhouse will start on the pole in one of the Duals and Bowman in the other. 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, February 9 2020
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