Byron puts #24 Chevy on pole for Daytona 500
William Byron made a statement for Hendrick Motorsports on Sunday, as he scored the pole for next weekend’s Daytona 500.
Byron led an all Team Hendrick juggernaut in the final round of qualifying, as all four drivers took the top four spots on the leader board
The 21-year-old toured the 2.5 mile Daytona International Speedway with a lap in 46.319 seconds at 194.305 mph in the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro to record his first pole in the “Great American Race.”
“Yeah, it’s awesome for Chevrolet,” Bowman said. “The Axalta Chevy was really fast. Credit to (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and all the guys. 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.”
The pole comes in Bowman’s first pairing with crew chief Chad Knaus, who moved over from teammate Jimmie Johnson’s car this year.
“I’m enjoying working with William and the guys,” Knaus said. “It’s really neat to come down here and be able to perform like that for Axalta and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports.”
It marks the fifth straight Daytona 500 pole for Hendrick Motorsports and the 700th overall for Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
“Congratulations to Chevy for their 700th pole and our fifth in a row down here,” said team owner Rick Hendrick. “I’m so happy for William and for all our guys, for Alex (Bowman) on the outside and Axalta and all the sponsors. This is Ally’s first race. So, we’re just pumped. It’s a good way to start the year.”
Second fastest was the defending pole winner for the race, Alex Bowman, who turned a lap in 46.355 seconds at 194.154 mph. Bowman paced the first round of qualifying, but fell just short in the final round.
Byron and Bowman can now move through the rest of the SpeedWeeks with a little less pressure, as they are the only two drivers locked into next Sunday’s Daytona 500. The rest of the starting field will be set by Thursday night’s qualifying races.
Chase Elliott, a two-time pole winner for the 500, was third fastest, with two-time 500 winner Jimmie Johnson fourth quick. Rookie driver Daniel Hemric was fifth fastest.
Defending MENCS champion Joey Logano was sixth, with Martin Truex, Jr., Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski, defending 500 winner Austin Dillon, Paul Menard and Denny Hamlin rounding out the top 12.
Notables that didn't make the final round of qualifying included Kyle Busch (13th), Kevin Harvick (15th), Aric Almirola (19th), Kurt Busch (21) and Darrell Wallace, Jr. (33rd).
Two non-chartered drivers, Tyler Reddick and Casey Mears, were fast enough to lock themselves into the Daytona 500 on speed, while Ryan Truex, Brendan Gaughan, Parker Kligerman and Joey Gase will have to race their way into the starting field in Thursday’s qualifying races.
Elliott, Austin Dillon and Ty Dillon lost their car chiefs prior to the start of qualifying, and will have to race without them for the rest of SpeedWeeks.
NASCAR ejected the three car chiefs for repeatedly failing inspection, as Greg Ebert (Austin Dillon), Billy Plourde (Ty Dillon) and Josh Kirk (Elliott) are not allowed back in the garage until the next race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The three drivers have also been hit with a 15 minute penalty prior to final practice for Sunday's Daytona 500.
The ejections come as NASCAR has announced crack downs on inspection failures, including the possibility of post-race disqualifications.
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 AXALTA CAMARO ZL1 – POLE WINNER
THIS IS YOUR FIRST CAREER CUP POLE AND ALSO THE 700TH CUP POLE FOR CHEVROLET. CONGRATULATIONS.
“Yeah, it’s awesome for Chevrolet. The Axalta Chevy was really fast. Credit to (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and all the guys. 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.”
YOU SAID YOU FELT LIKE THERE WERE A COUPLE OF AREAS YOU COULD HAVE IMPROVED ON IN THE FINAL QUALIFYING ROUND
“We lacked a little bit getting up to speed. A think a little bit too much wheel spin. This thing is fast and it’s obviously a lot of credit to the guys. I’m looking forward to next Sunday.”
THINK ABOUT A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO WHEN YOU HADN’T DRIVEN A RACE CAR AND THEN JUST A FEW YEARS LATER YOU’RE ON-POLE FOR THE BIGGEST RACE.
“Yeah, it’s pretty special. It’s definitely a huge blessing.”
YOU KNOW ALL ABOUT MAKING MEMORIES AND HAVE MADE MANY THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER. YOUR OLD DRIVER, JIMMIE JOHNSON, WALKED UP AND EXTENDED HIS HAND. WHAT DID HE TELL YOU?
“He said, ‘You got me my first pole and you got William his first pole. That’s pretty cool.’ Yeah, man, that’s pretty fantastic. I couldn’t be more proud of everybody on the No. 24 team; and honestly, everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. A lot of effort went into all four of those cars. So, to come down here and qualify on the pole with these guys, a new team, a new driver; representing Axalta and the No. 24 car has been a lot of fun.”
YOU JUMPED UP ON THE WALL AND WANTED TO TAKE A PICTURE OF THE SCOREBOARD BECAUSE AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS, IT’S BASICALLY FOUR CARS IN ONE TEAM
“Yeah, it’s such a huge accomplishment. We’ve got a small little military group of guys that really work hard on our Superspeedway program. And all these guys really put a lot of effort into them. There are many others, obviously, as well; but they work really hard over the off-season. To be able to see those cars 1-2-3-4 on the first two rows, is awesome. It’s a cool photograph. I’m enjoying working with William and the guys. It’s really neat to come down here and be able to perform like that for Axalta and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports.
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 NATIONWIDE CAMARO ZL1, QUALIFIED 2ND FOR THE DAYTONA 500
ON YOUR RACING RESUME IT SAYS A POLE AND AN OUTSIDE POLE AT DAYTONA. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS PLACE YOU LIKE SO MUCH?
“You know a driver can’t really do much. It’s all car and crew, so very proud of these guys, the Hendrick engine shop and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. They do a great job. It’s neat. Really cool to have a fast race car down here.”
NOW LOOKING AHEAD TO SUNDAY AFTERNOON:
“You got to get your stuff driving better than it drove here. We will approach the Duel as necessary. I think this car has a good bit of handling in it. So, we could probably race the Duel pretty aggressively. We will learn a lot in The Clash today as long as the rain stays away. It should be good.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1, 3RD IN DAYTONA 500 QUALIFYING
700th POLE FOR CHEVROLET AND TOP FOUR SPOTS FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS. DOES IT GET ANY BETTER THAN THAT?
“Yeah, that is pretty awesome. Super happy for the company, Chevrolet, all of our partners. A great way to get things started with Ally. So, just a great Sunday. It is what we had hoped for, it’s what we talk about internally at the shop all winter long. ‘It would be great to go down and get 1-4’ and then to do it is pretty awesome.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR CAR FOR THURSDAY’S DUEL RACE?
“I don’t know yet. This one I haven’t had in the draft. Clearly, it has speed which is just hard to find, but until we get into those drafting practices, I’m not too sure.”
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1, 4TH IN DAYTONA 500 QUALIFYING
700TH POLE FOR CHEVROLET AND TOP FOUR SPOTS FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS. NOT TOO MUCH MORE YOUR GROUP COULD DO TODAY:
“Yeah, cool deal. Everybody knows qualifying down here is such a reflection upon the work over the off season and luckily, I know a lot of organizations don’t, but I feel like Hendrick Motorsports has always put a lot of effort into our speedway cars and why not? I mean, they all count and why not try for these things too. I know some people don’t like to, but we are trying to push in all areas and this is a good way to get started.”
DANIEL HEMRIC, NO. 8 BASS PRO SHOPS/CATERPILLAR CAMARO ZL1, 5TH IN DAYTONA 500 QUALIFYING
TOP FIVE IN QUALIFYING FOR YOUR FIRST DAYTONA 500, NOT BAD:
“Oh my gosh I’m incredibly proud of all of the No. 8 team, everybody on this Bass Pro Shops/Caterpillar Camaro ZL1 for picking up the speed we picked up. I didn’t know what we had for speed based off yesterday and we exceeded what my expectations were. Proud of these guys, so cool to have the whole top five be all Chevy Camaro ZL1’s. It’s cool to be here and I’m looking forward to next week.”
JIM CAMPBELL, CHEVROLET U.S. VICE PRESIDENT OF PERFORMANCE VEHICLES AND MOTORSPORTS:
“Congratulations to William Byron and the No 24 Axalta Camaro ZL1 team for being the fastest qualifier today at Daytona” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet US Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “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.”
# DENOTES ROOKIE
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