Alex Bowman, Denny Hamlin To Start On The Front Row For The Daytona 500by Camille Jones February 11, 2018 0 comments
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Stealing the show in the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet, Alex Bowman will lead the field to the green next Sunday in the 60th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
Sunday’s qualifying effort marks Bowman’s second pole in his 82 starts in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. He ran a lap of 46.002 seconds at 195.644 mph to capture the top spot. Bowman enters the season taking over the seat of the retired Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 88 Chevrolet Camro ZL1. Bowman was also the quickest in both, the first session of qualifying, as well as the final round, capturing the pole.
“It was a little nerve-wracking,” Bowman said. “Our Nationwide Camaro ZL1 has been great since we unloaded. All the guys back at the chassis shop, body shop, and the Hendrick engine shop have been top-notch. They’ve all worked so hard.”
Bowman continued and said, “And we knew we were going for the pole; that’s what we’re here to do. And I thought we were at a little disadvantage letting the car cool down as long as we did since we went pretty early in the first round. I was a little nervous for that second round. But it took off well off pit road and I did everything I could do, but it really comes down to the crew and all the guys back at the shop, whether it’s the aero group, the engine shop, the chassis shop. Everybody works so hard at these speedway cars, especially the 500. It just means the world to have Nationwide support and to be able to put it on the pole.”
Denny Hamlin will start on the front row alongside of Bowman for the start of the 2018 Daytona 500 after running a lap of 46.132 seconds at 195.092 mph. Hamlin was just 0.130 seconds off of Bowman’s pole run. The second-place starting effort is Hamlin’s 11th top-10 start at Daytona International Speedway.
“I’d never even sniffed the top 5 of a Daytona 500 qualifying,” Hamlin said. “And you know, for us, we made one sort of mock run yesterday and then we were so far off that we just switched to really race trim, and we knew that the race is really won on Sunday, really Thursday and Sunday of next week, and even though the front row is nice, it was probably unrealistic.
“So we really worked on race trim and ran in the pack for most of the practice yesterday. We then ran ‑‑ before that we were in the Clash and noticed that handling was going to be a big issue, so we tuned our car to try to race well and win the race next Sunday. I realistically set my expectations ‑‑ probably I would have been happy with about 18th, so this was way out of the blue for me, and it just means that the team did a phenomenal job overnight of checking every detail and making sure we had a car that was fast.”
Sunday’s Daytona 500 qualifying session set the front row for the biggest race of the season. Forty cars qualified for the Daytona 500, meaning no cars will have to race their way into the race via the Can-Am Duel on Thursday evening.
The Can-Am Duels will set the official line-up for the Daytona 500 on Thursday, February 15 at 7 p.m. ET. Live coverage will be found on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) and Motor Racing Network (MRN).
Photo Credit: Camille Jones/TheFourthTurn.com